DiRienzo, with daughter Juliana, accepts the certificate from JoAnn Viola
CARMEL – Carmel Fire Chief and Westchester County Police Officer Dave DiRienzo received a hero’s welcome from members of the Stephen Driscoll Putnam Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
DiRienzo, 33, who learned first aid and the Heimlich maneuver as a teenager while volunteering with the Lake Carmel Fire Department Explorer Scouts and the Sheriff’s Office Corps of Cadets, saved a man’s life on Christmas night during a dramatic rescue in Cortlandt.
The was accompanied to the recent meeting by his three-year-old daughter Juliana. He told the 75 members in attendance that while working the 4 p.m. to midnight shift patrolling along Route 6 towards the Cortlandt Town Center, he observed a vehicle being operated erratically.
The vehicle finally stopped at the entrance to the shopping plaza and Officer DiRienzo was greeted by a driver who was “beet red.’ He said the man “had difficulty breathing and could not respond to my questions. I noticed he was choking and pulled him out of the car before administering the Heimlich.”
DiRienzo said a couple of pushes dislodged the obstruction from his throat. “The man immediately began to speak and his color returned to normal.”
The victim, a 48-year-old from the Binghamton area, was en route to his daughter’s house in Mohegan Lake for Christmas dinner when he was overcome.
When the pair was reunited at Westchester Police headquarters in Hawthorne several days later DiRienzo discovered the cause of the near calamity. A filling in the man’s tooth cracked and became dislodged in his throat.
DiRienzo called the experience inspiring. “Christmas Day – to save a life – doesn’t get much better.”
JoAnn Viola, president of the local FOP chapter, congratulated DiRienzo for his quick actions. “You are a hero and we are so proud of you.”