May 22, 2012

Positivity: Hero remains humble

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Paterson, New Jersey:

SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2012
LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY MAY 19, 2012, 11:58 AM

A lot has happened to Horace Rattigan since February, when his dramatic rescue of an elderly woman from a burning house in Paterson captivated the city and branded the 24-year-old a hero.

Horace Rattigan, 24, was offered a job in downtown Paterson, tidying up the area and giving directions as cleanup ‘ambassador.’

Civic organizations in Paterson reached out, asking how they could help. When officials with the Downtown Paterson Special Improvement District, a non-profit agency, learned Rattigan was unemployed, they offered him a job as a cleanup “ambassador,” giving directions and helping to tidy the city’s business district.

And recently, the Carnegie Hero Fund said Rattigan has been nominated for a Carnegie Medal, which is awarded to civilians who perform extraordinary acts of heroism. Now, in addition to keeping Paterson’s downtown clean, attending award ceremonies has become part of Rattigan’s routine.

Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik gave him a livesaving award. Then, on Wednesday night, Rattigan waded through a phalanx of police officers, sheepishly accepting handshakes during a standing ovation as he made his way to a podium at the Fiesta banquet hall in Wood-Ridge.

The occasion was an annual award ceremony sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 46 of Rochelle Park, an organization of active and retired police officers.

Short and stocky, Rattigan momentarily disappeared in the crowd, before emerging at the podium and leaning into the microphone.

“All I have to say is thank you for your support,” Rattigan said before returning to his table to finish his pasta.

Rattigan received a civilian lifesaving award that night and a $100 check.

“The guy did something special,” said Joseph Muti, the lodge’s awards chairman and a retired Weehawken police captain. “That woman would probably be dead, without a doubt.”

No hesitation

Soft-spoken with a cherubic face and complete lack of swagger, Rattigan was walking from a bus stop around 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 when he saw smoke and flames billowing from a house on East 32nd Street.

“I heard knocking and saw a woman at the second-floor window, screaming,” Rattigan said in an interview.

Rattigan ran to the front porch and rang the doorbell, he said, before kicking in the front door.

“The first thing I saw was smoke everywhere,” he said. “I searched for a way to get to the second floor. I couldn’t see.”

Through the flames, he spotted the woman — 92-year-old Elisa Maury. “She was in a wheelchair,” Rattigan said. “I grabbed her.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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