BALMVILLE – Hector Almodóvar Jr. and 10-year-old Ariana Miranda have become good friends since last April, when he saved her life.
Almodóvar is a retired 25-year New York City police officer who now helps monitor the cafeteria at Balmville Elementary School in the Town of Newburgh.
Last April Ariana choked on an orange, and he was the only person in the school who knew how to administer the Heimlich maneuver. It took three tries to dislodge the piece of fruit, and now Ariana is just fine.
“It’s an honor to receive this award. I’m just happy that everything worked out and she is okay, thank God,” he said.
Ariana had hugs and palm heart-emojis for him and said that she is very grateful Almodóvar was there and feels like he is her protector and defender, as do the other students.
He says he feels like Ariana is part of his family, and in fact she and the other Balmville children have always been family to him.
Senator James Skoufis awarded Almodóvar a State Senate Liberty Medal, the highest civilian honor in the Senate.
The senator said that Almodóvar’s unimpeachable character was recognized during his time in the police force, and clearly shines now in his retirement.
“Your community and Ariana’s family, no doubt, are deeply grateful for your quick thinking and action,” Skoufis told the retired cop during a recent ceremony.