SPFD Chief Jonathan Ellis, SPFD firefighter Dennis Hercel, Jr, SPFD firefighter Matt Adams, FFD firefighter Brian Piccola, FFD Captain Frank Dietl and FFD Chief John Piccola. Credits: Tom Kranz
EMT Greg Cassidy receives his award from Knights of Columbus' Pat Harrington. Credits: Tom Kranz
Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover with Grand Knight Joseph Sumanski and Past Grand Knight Mike D'Antuono. Credits: Tom Kranz
FPD Sgt. Frank Marrerro shakes hands with Knights of Columbus awards coordinator Mike D'Antuono as FPD officers Ryan Gilmore and Mike Rusin look on. Credits: Tom Kranz
Fanwood Rescue Squad president Nancy Mustachio with EMT Steve Siegal, who received a Shield Award from the Knights of Columbus for extraordinary service. Credits: Tom Kranz
SPPD Lt. Jeff Briel, Officer Brian Cheney, Knights' Pat Harrington, Sgt. Mike Tardi and Officer Chris Ostrowski. Credits: Tom Kranz
Police and Public Safety Responders Honored by Knights of Columbus
Friday, March 22, 2013 • 9:12am
SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - Fanwood and Scotch Plains firemen who tried to save the lives of a mother and son who died in a December, 2012, house fire were among the public safety responders honored by the Knights of Columbus at their annual Shield Award presentation on Tuesday, March 21, 2013..
The Father John Nelligan Council of the Knights honor police, fire and EMS personnel every year, allowing those departments in Fanwood and Scotch Plains to single out individual achievements. This was the 38th year of those awards.
Fanwood Fire Chief John Piccola and Scotch Plains Fire Chief Jonathan Ellis each cited members of their departments who responded to a house fire on Church Avenue in Scotch Plains on December 18th, 2012. Upon arriving, Scotch Plains firefighters Matt Adams and Dennis Hercel, Jr., made entry into the smoke filled building, discovered a woman and her 3-year old son barricaded inside a second floor room. They removed the victims with the assistance of Fanwood Fire Captain Frank Dietl and firefighter Brian Piccola who began CPR on the unresponsive victims. Neither the woman, Katherine Halverson, 32, nor her son, Jeremy McDonald, 3, nor the family dog survived in what authorities later determined was a murder/suicide committed by Halverson.
“It was truly a team effort,” said Chief Ellis. “Those victims had the best possible chance of surviving. Unfortunately, it was not the outcome we had hoped for.”
Also honored at the event at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Martine Avenue was the entire Fanwood Police Department for its extraordinary efforts during and after Hurricane Sandy. They were represented by Sgt. Frank Marrerro and Patrolmen Mike Rusin and Ryan Gilmore.
Fanwood Rescue Squad EMT Steve Siegal was honored for more than 20 years of service to the squad.
“He’s just a regular guy,” said squad president Nancy Mustachio, “who is always there. We appreciate his service.”
Scotch Plains police officers Brian Cheney and Christian Ostrowski and Sgt. Michael Tardi were cited for entering a burning building on Mountain Avenue in October, 2012, and rescuing an elderly couple and other residents who had fled to the roof. Their story was related by Lt. Jeff Briel who represented Chief Brian Mahoney.
Scotch Plains Rescue Squad EMT Greg Cassidy was honored or his tireless dedication to the squad despite a challenging college schedule. Cassidy, whose father Brian Cassidy is a physician and 20-year member of the squad, attends college in Rhode Islandd.
“He makes more calls than many members who live here in town,” said Squad Captain Dan Sullivan.
Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover and Fanwood Borough Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell also spoke in support of the honorees.