NORWALK-- Twenty-two Norwalk firefighters and an off-duty Stamford firefighter were honored Wednesday at Norwalk Fire headquarters for attempting to save the lives of two people whose car plunged into the water at Veterans Memorial Park. Mayor Richard A. Moccia, Fire Chief Denis McCarthy and Fire Commissioner Carol Andreoli recognized the firefighters at the annual retirees breakfast. "We owe these men a great debt of gratitude and admiration," McCarthy said. Stamford residents Fleurine and Fontaine were riding in a blue Subaru Impreza at Veterans Memorial Park on the afternoon of Oct. 27, and witnesses said it appeared that Fontaine was teaching Fleurine how to drive. However, some police reports list Fontaine as the driver of the vehicle. The driver lost control of the car, and the car hopped a curb, went over rocks, through reeds and into the shallow water. The driver's side window was rolled down, and water flooded the cab of the car. Two Good Samaritans -- off-duty Stamford firefighter Tom Elles and Matt Walker of Norwalk -- dove into the water and tried to rescue Fleurine and Fontaine before firefighters and police arrived. Eight firefighters and at least three police officers dove into the water. Firefighters broke the back windshield to the car in order to get the victims out of the vehicle. One firefighter cut both of his legs on broken glass during the rescue. After pulling the victims from the water, firefighters and police worked feverishly with EMS?personnel to revive them. The victims were said to have vital signs when paramedics were transporting them to Norwalk Hospital. "Most of these guys will tell you that they're just doing their job, and there's no need for awards,"said Deputy Fire Chief Gino Gatto, the commander during the response to the Veterans Park accident. "Well, I disagree." Fleurine died on Oct. 30, and Fontaine is still being treated at the Intensive Care Unit in Norwalk Hospital. Moccia said many police officers have told him that they couldn't believe the firefighters were getting off the truck and diving into the water without cold water gear. "There is no way I?could express my thanks adequately enough," Moccia said. Assistant Fire Chief Laurence Reilly said the department would like to honor Walker at the upcoming Fire Commission meeting, but they have been unable to reach him. He is asking Walker to get in touch with him by calling (203)854-0242. For the complete list of the firefighters who were honored, visit The Hour's website atwww.thehour.com.
Norwalk Fire Department- Firefighter Hector Ramirez, Firefighter Elefterios Petrides, Firefighter James Lyons, Firefighter David Dustin, Firefighter Mark Melynchuk, Firefighter Patrick St. Onge, Firefighter George Baez, Firefighter Anthony O'Marra, Firefighter Joseph Malizia, Firefighter Michael Sniffin, Firefighter David Burrows, Firefighter Michael Cripps, Firefighter Martin O'Marra, Firefighter Richard Ryan, Firefighter Jason Macnevin, Firefighter Alexander Wilson, Deputy Chief Gino Gatto, Lt. Bruce Sanford, Lt. Efstathios Papadopoulos, Lt. Thomas Reidy, Capt. Adam Markowitz and Lt. Robert Juda.
Stamford Fire Department -- Firefighter Tom Elles