ELIZABETH, NJ - There was an emotional tribute during yesterday’s National Night Out to the first responders who in May rescued a young boy struck by a train.
Gregory Enriques, who was 13 at the time of the accident, cried as a council member recounted how police and other first responders saved his life on May 11 near Franklin Street. Although Enriques survived, his foot was amputated.
“This young man had 19 surgeries since May 11,” said Council President Carlos Torres in a field at School No. 26, where the event was held. “So these officers right here saved this young man’s life. His life will never be the same again. But I want to thank each and every one of you for what you have done and what you continue to do.”
Using crutches, Enriques stood and began to smile once he was surrounded by those who rescued him, including Elizabeth Police Officers Eric Santiago Gora and Luciano Nicolas Porto.
National Night Out is an annual event that gives residents an opportunity to meet with members from the police and fire departments in a setting outside of an emergency. Millions of people in 16,000 communities across the nation take part in the event, according to the National Association of Town Watch's website.
Elizabeth Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 4 President Orlando Barros, Jr. said the tribute gave first responders who rescued the 13-year-old the opportunity to meet the boy under better circumstances.
“Just to see our officers there to help him out that day he was injured and then to meet him in a better case, was really touching, I thought,” Barros said.
Mayor Christian Bollwage said that this year -- unlike last year -- the city’s National Night Out event was held at a school. He said members of the Board of Education were in attendance to highlight not only “the safety of community, but also the education of the community.”
“National Night Out is something that is needed in every community because people don't flip hamburgers in their backyard anymore and talk to their neighbors and friends,” Bollwage told TAP. “...And here in the City of Elizabeth, the more things that we do like this encourages people to not only talk to their neighbors, but talk to the services that if they ever need them in the city they know where to get them.”
Councilwoman-At-Large Patricia Perkins-Auguste handed out resolutions honoring several residents for their service to the community last night too, including Chris Pereira, who was recognized for his volunteerism in the city.
Fourth Ward Councilman Carlos Cedeño led the event, which was held in his district, and thanked the Elizabeth police, fire and EMS for their service too.
Rescue Company 1 and Ladder Company 1 of the Elizabeth Fire Department gave a Jaws of Life demonstration later on in the evening, completely removing the roof of a car in about 10 minutes.
“They showed them the tools that we have and the capabilities, God forbid someone is trapped inside that car,” said Deputy Fire Chief Andrew Sandoukas, referring to the demonstration. “[It shows] how quickly we can get them out and get them to the hospital and get them help at the trauma center or something like that.
See the full demonstration below: