N.Y. trooper honored after crawling through burning house to rescue teen
Trooper Robert Stawicki and a deputy dragged the 13-year-old out of the house as melting shingles dripped on them
GRANBY, N.Y. — Trooper Robert P. Stawicki crawled toward an unconscious 13-year-old boy on the floor of a rural Oswego County home that was fully engulfed in flames last December.
“Immediately it was we have to get him out,” Stawicki said. “We knew someone was in there and we knew we had to get them out.”
Stawicki and a sheriff’s deputy, who arrived at the home about 15 minutes before firefighters, dragged the boy by his feet out of the house as melting shingles dripped down on them from above, the trooper said.
Stawicki started CPR on the boy, who regained his heartbeat by the time paramedics arrived to take him to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. He died from his severe burns the next morning.
For his actions during that Dec. 15 house fire, Stawicki, 24, of Cicero, this week received the Brummer Award, which honors a member of the New York State Police Department for valor, heroism and outstanding performance of duty.
“Your quick thinking and calm demeanor under pressure at a very chaotic scene deserves recognition,” state police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said of Stawicki in a letter of commendation. “Your actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of the New York State Police. I commend you for a job well done.”
Since 1968, the Brummer Award — the highest NYSP honor for heroism — has been awarded 104 times, including 14 times to a person who had died. The award was established by Wall Street financier and philanthropist Bertram F. Brummer.
“It was a tragic outcome, so it was hard to accept the award,” Stawicki said in an interview this week. “Even though I was the one given the award it was a combined group effort from state police, the sheriff’s office, the EMT’s and the 10 fire departments who responded. Without all of those pieces we would have never been able to give the (boy) a shot to live.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Shear, who entered the burning home with Stawicki, was awarded the Medal of Honor from the sheriff’s office on March 4.
On Dec. 15, a 17-year-old boy, the 13-year-old’s brother, woke up at about 4 a.m. to find smoke and flames in their home at 354 County Line Rd., according to the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office.
He tried to get to his mother and brother but couldn’t reach them because of the flames. Instead he jumped out of a second-story window and raced about 100 yards to a neighbor’s home to call 911.
Shear was the first person to arrive at the home located in the rural southern most part of Oswego County. The house is about eight miles south of Fulton and about 20 miles northwest of Syracuse.
Soon Stawicki and Trooper Alec Nelson, both from the Troop D and based in Fulton, arrived at the burning home.
They were told the 13-year-old boy and his mother were still inside.
Nelson immediately began trying to get inside the home at several different spots to look for the boy and his mother. He was unable to get inside because of the intensity of the fire, according to the commendation letter.
Even with heavy smoke and flames billowing from the front of the house, Stawicki and Shear focused their efforts on the front door trying to get to the unconscious boy who was about 10 feet inside the door.
Once they got the boy out, they performed CPR for about 15 minutes until paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital. He died the next morning.
Angela Rosenbaum, the boy’s mother, never made it out of the home and she was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office. She was still in bed when she died, Stawicki said.
Stawicki was one of 21 people honored Wednesday morning at the New York State Police Annual Awards held at a state Police Academy Building in Albany.
“These members and civilians honored today – are the best of an agency filled with brave and courageous leaders who are diligent and ready to serve,” Bruen said Wednesday morning at the ceremony. “To our award recipients, I thank you for selflessly putting others first and making New York State a better place to live.”
Staff writer James McClendon covers breaking news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, a story idea, a question or a comment? Reach him at 914-204-2815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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