Press Release Article


Date: Nov 13, 2012
Press Release Number: 192-2012

Agency employees helped rescue more than 60 people during storm

At its next monthly board meeting on November 15, Port Authority leadership plans to honor members of the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) and three civilian employees who bravely risked their lives to rescue colleagues and members of the public trapped by rapidly rising floodwaters during Hurricane Sandy.

The heroic actions resulted in more than 60 people being saved, ranging from the rescue of 23 people trapped in a flooded building in Jersey City to the rescue of 30 people trapped by rising floodwaters in the southwestern section of Hoboken.

On October 29, the day the storm arrived, PAPD officers Vincent Morelli and Dan Tarpey rescued a security guard from the Harrison PATH maintenance yard. The guard was stranded after climbing on top of his security booth as floodwaters rose around him.

Nearby at the PATH Harrison station, members of a Port Authority Police Emergency Services Unit rescued a cleaning employee trapped in five to six feet of water. The woman was in the early stages of hypothermia when the officers reached her. Members of the unit who participated in the rescue included Sgt. Kevin Cottrell and Officers Joseph Doherty, William Biedermann, Glen T. Page, Rich Egan, Brian Ross and William Kruesi.

Also on October 29, Port Authority tunnel and bridge agent John McColgan, tour manager Robert Swaney and toll collector Ed Strauss went out in the storm to search for Staten Island bridges toll collector, Travis Horwath, who became stuck in rising flood waters while trying to make it home. Agent McColgan waded through chest high waters to rescue Horwath once he and his colleagues saw the toll collector on the roof of his car, which was floating in the rising water.

The day after the storm hit the region, PAPD Sgt. Cottrell and Police Officers Glen T. Page and Joaquin Portes evacuated 23 residents from an apartment building in Jersey City. The officers responded to a call about multiple residents showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Crews later discovered that two generators in the building’s basement were producing carbon monoxide.

That same day, at the New Jersey Marine Terminals, Acting Police Inspector Steven Rotolo rescued two security guards who were stranded by floodwaters at Security Park after failing to heed a prior evacuation order. Once the floodwaters receded to approximately three feet, Inspector Rotolo drove to their aid and retrieved them from the flooded area.

On Wednesday, October 31, Lt. Richard Munnelly, Sgts. Antonio Perzichilli and Dan Dias, and Officers Jerardo Fredella, Ray DeVito, James Giaguzzi, Edward Bauer, Steve Krapf, Luis Morales, Melissa McNair, Phil Lekkas, Michael Kostelnik, Shawn Murphy, Craig Farrell and Ralph Ruiz rescued 30 people trapped by rising floodwaters in the southwestern section of Hoboken. The water, which had not receded two days after the hurricane’s landfall and was up to four feet deep, had trapped some residents in their homes. The PAPD members waded through the water to reach the affected homes and offered residents safe passage to a Hoboken shelter. One of those rescued was an 84-year-old woman with a serious medical condition who was taken to a hospital.

“The men and women of the Port Authority put the lives of others ahead of their own throughout one of the greatest natural disasters to ever strike our region,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. “They all went above and beyond the call of duty, and we owe each of them our deepest gratitude for their selfless and courageous acts.”

“The entire New York-New Jersey bistate region owes the brave employees of the Port Authority an enormous debt of gratitude,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. “Their willingness to work around the clock, to not only secure our vital transportation infrastructure, but also to help those in need, is the ultimate testament to their professionalism, honor, and selflessness.”

“While faced with a challenging and very dangerous weather event, Port Authority employees responded bravely to those in need,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “We congratulate them and thank them for their courage, dedication, and for providing life saving public service.”

“All of these remarkable individuals have demonstrated their commitment to serving the people of our region and ensuring that the Port Authority carries out its mission, even in the face of an unprecedented and life-threatening storm,” said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. “Thanks to their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way, lives were saved.”

“The heroism and life-savings actions of our officers were truly remarkable,” said Port Authority Acting Police Chief John Ryan. “These men and women acted without regard for their own safety, and for that we applaud them.”

CONTACT: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 212-435-7777

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in New York. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the state of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency relies on revenues generated by facility users, tolls, fees and rents as well as loans, bond financing, and federal grants to fund its operations. For more information, please visit

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