SHOUT OUT: Two separate events connected to the same incident led to award for a car service driver and a police officer fresh out of the academy who combined to save a woman from a rapist were among those honored for distinguished service by the Bergen County Chiefs of Police Association during the first official swearing-in ceremony for new and promoted Palisades Interstate Parkway officers in 20 years.
The awards were given last night as seven new patrol officers, two sergeants and a lieutenant also took oaths.
The incident occurred July 2, when Aizzaai Chaudhry pulled over his cab to help a woman who was holding onto a stop sign near the Lemoine Avenue on-ramp to the PIP and screaming “help” as her assailant tried to rape her.
Chaudhry, “with no training or experience” and “without any regard for his own safety” got out and fended off the assailant – who got into his car and drove off as a drunken friend slept in the back seat. Chaudhry immediately dialed 911.
Eight miles up the parkway, the rapist steered into the Alpine Lookout, where his car smashed head-on into a tree.
PIP rookie Officer Frankie Garrett was training with fellow Officer Joseph Lanfrank when the separate calls both came in around 3:15 a.m. As other units headed to the sexual assault, both rushed to the lookout.
There, they found the driver dead in the engulfed car. His passenger had been thrown nearly 30 feet, PIP police said.
Garrett “quickly stabilized [him]” and “ventilating the victim with a bag valve mask as he was going into respiratory arrest,” PIP Lt. Michael Coppola said.
Moments later, a medical helicopter arrived and took the victim to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he was originally expected to die.
“Later that morning we received notification that the victim … managed to cling to life and was expected to recover,” Coppola said, adding that he “ultimately would have died if not for [Garrett’s] actions.”
Similarly, the woman would have been raped if not for Chaudry’s bravery, the lieutenant said.
“This is a unique situation where two individuals engaged in life saving events in two different locations but under the same chain of events,” Coppola said.
The back-seat passenger, a New Brunswick man, told detectives he’d been bar-hopping with the driver and the woman in New York City before he fell asleep in the back seat.
Awards also were given last night to those involved in a Dec. 13, 2011 aborted suicide.
PIP police received the 9 a.m. call from their Dumont counterparts indicating that a suicidal man was headed to the cliffs.
PIP Officer Joseph Quinn located the man’s car on Route 9W at the walkway entrance for the Woman’s Federation Monument. Resources were deployed to the area, including a tracking K-9 from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s Officer James Schielzo and “Noki,” along with Coppola and Officer Kyle Zyskowski tracked from the car about ¼-mile east through the woods to the cliffs edge. They were joined there PIP Lt. Jesse Cohen.
Although “Noki” indicated that the man was nearby, the officers couldn’t see him. So they began checking the east side of the safety barrier.
Cohen found him moments later sitting on the edge of a 430-foot drop.
He tried talking with the man, who was “quiet but responsive.” Cohen then backed out while additional resources were summoned.
“The victim was resistant to listen and did not want to leave his location,” but Cohen and Zyskowski persisted.
After about 10 minutes, they coaxed him to a safer area.
Eventually, the man relented, and the officers took him a waiting ambulance. He was taken to Englewood Medical Center.
An award was also given last night to PIP Sgt. Roman Galloza, the department’s chief of detectives, who was honored for his “years of dedicated work, off-duty investment, and ability to get a job done.”
Gallozza has completed several cliff recoveries – including one in which he was injured – and even dangled 300 feet from the side of a cliff for more than a half hour after crews lowering him ran out of rope.
Also honored was PIP Sgt. Kley Peralta, for his “unwavering desire to learn and the positive image he brings to the department.”
“He is constantly in training even on his own time, and he is always trying to teach others,” Coppola noted. “He is nationally known for his gang knowledge and training and this agency regularly receives requests for him to teach his gang awareness courses.
“He’s trained everyone from children in school to seasoned command staff personnel on his vast knowledge in this field.”
Those sworn in, in the photo above, are (left to right): Officer Joseph Villone, Officer Frankie Garrett, Sergeant Fabricio Salazar, Lieutenant Jesse Cohen, Sergeant Joseph Lanfrank Jr, Officer Lee Frazzano, Officer Jeffrey Sokolowski, Officer Mark Torsiello, Officer Matthew Gough, Officer Ian Persson (CREDIT: Anthony Toranto, Palisades Interstate Park Commission)