Way too often the news stories that we hear are of a negative nature. Articles of murders, rapes, DWI arrests, the economy, the latest terror plot and such turn many people off from even looking at the news. To me, there’s never enough of the good stuff out there, stories that warm the heart and restore a little faith in the good side of human nature. In the past couple of days, LI Newsday has run three such stories that have done just that, and I think they’re all worth sharing.
Baiting Hollow Teen takes matters into his own hands to help out flood victims
Last March, one of the worst nor’easters in over twenty years wreaked havoc on Long Island. High winds and heavy rains caused terrible damage throughout the island, leaving many without power and some with terrible damage to their homes. More than two months later, the water has yet to recede in some spots, especially on the eastern end of the island. As public officials continue to wrangle over who’s going to pay for help, one Long Island teenager has taken matters into his own hands.
Horton Avenue in Riverhead was one of the hardest hit places on Long Island. Since the storm on March29th/30th, four houses on the street have been declared uninhabitable by town officials. The State Department of Environmental Conservation has identified oil-contamination in the soil that must be removed, but it is awaiting all of the water to recede before it can complete its tests. Suffolk County and Riverhead town officials have been discussing how to help these residents, but officials maintain that either the state or federal government should pick up the tab.
Soon after the big storm hit, Drew Aldrich, 16, of Baiting Hollow, Long Island took notice of the devastation on the street and decided to do something about it. Having witnessed some of the damage firsthand, he couldn’t help but want to do something for these people whose lives had been turned completely upside down. Aldrich took action.
Aldrich took it upon himself to raise money for the people of Horton Avenue. He created “Horton Ave.” t-shirts, which he has been selling for $10 apiece at Riverhead High School, where he is a sophomore. Local stores have taken Aldrich’s lead and have offered the shirts for sale, as well. All of the monies from the sale of the t-shirts will go to the First Baptist Church of Riverhead, which is helping the residents of the devastated street. To date, Aldrich has raised over $1000.
I, for one, am proud of young Mr. Aldrich, who has shown by example what one person can do in the face of tragedy. While government officials continue to argue over who’s going to pay to help these poor people, this high school sophomore is actually doing something to help! Bravo to Drew!
Hit and run driver nabbed by witness
On Wednesday evening, Steven Lo Verde, 45, was stopped at a red light in Carle Place, New York when he heard a loud sound. Off to his left he saw something horrific. Two teenage girls were screaming as they held on tightly to the hood of a Toyota that had just struck them. Two other girls were lying on the street bleeding. The Toyota kept on speeding away, at one point coming to an abrupt stop simply to get the girls off the hood.
Lo Verde, not believing his own eyes, set off in pursuit of the Toyota. He chased the vehicle through heavy traffic for about a mile, eventually able to stop its progress. He got out of his own car and held the driver, Elias Garcia, 26, down until police arrived. Garcia insisted he never saw the girls, but the details of the incident prove otherwise.
Garcia’s vehicle struck the girls with such force that his windshield shattered, disproving his contention. The girls had been venturing home from a trip to the local shopping mall when they were crossing the street to catch a bus. They were in a crosswalk when the incident occurred and had the right of way. Police say that the man fled because he is in the United States illegally and does not hold a valid driver’s license.
All four of the girls were taken to local hospitals for their injuries and all of them are expected to survive. One of them received more than 100 stitches to her head. Lo Verde is the epitome of a hero, one who risks harm to himself to help others in need. By chasing and catching Garcia, he risked serious injury to himself and in turn helped nab a dastardly perpetrator in one of the most cowardly of crimes.
Two heroes lauded for their efforts last September
On Thursday, New York State Police held a ceremony in Albany to honor outstanding acts of bravery and heroism. Two Long Island men were among those honored for their efforts in an incident that occurred last September. Joe Gadigan, 49, and his stepson Bill Bruno, 24, were returning from a fishing outing at Captree State Park when they came upon a horrifying scene. A man was standing over a state trooper and beating him mercilessly with a baton as dozens of people who had stopped their cars, simply watched from a distance.
Gadigan and Bruno immediately jumped out of their car to help the trooper, Robert Orth, 29. They startled the attacker, Steven Barraco, 41, who took off running with the baton in hand. As he ran, Orth fired a single shot, hitting his attacker. Barraco later died from his wound.
Earlier, Barraco had refused to pull over for a traffic stop, but during the pursuit his car had become disabled. As he pulled over to the side, he fled the vehicle, prompting a chase by Orth. A scuffle ensued during which Barraco wrestled a baton from Orth’s waistband and began beating the trooper over the head repeatedly with the weapon. If not for the heroic actions of Gadigan and Bruno, the outcome of this incident might have been terribly different.
Orth continues to undergo therapy for brain injuries he suffered during the assault. In March of this year, a grand jury reviewed the case and found that Orth’s shooting of Barraco was justified. Thursday’s ceremony marked the first time since the incident that Orth got to meet his rescuers, and offered his sincerest gratitude because “they did something great to help me.”
Drew Aldrich, Steven Lo Verde, Joseph Gadigan and Bill Bruno are all heroes. Each of them, in their own way, took matters into their own hands to help others. I’m only too happy to share their stories here, for they all deserve our applause!
*Portions of this article were taken from Examiner.com.
Calvi , Mary. “Long Island looks like a disaster zone.” wcbstv.com 16 Mar 2010: n. pag. Web. 20 May 2010. http://wcbstv.com/local/long.island.storm.2.1562612.html.
Chayes, Matthew and Strickler, Andrew. “Samaritan nabs driver in crash.” LI Newsday 21 May 2010: A7. Print.
Dowdy, Zachary and Strickler, Andrew. “Trooper thanks 2 for saving him.” LI Newsday 21 May 2010: A6-7. Print.
Freedman, Mitchell. “Response fits to a T.” LI Newsday 20 May 2010: A6. Print.