Tag Archives: 911 first responder

110th Precinct shaves hair, raises funds for fellow officer

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Lieutenant Patrick Welsh did not have to think twice when deciding to shave his long curls for fellow officer and friend, Sergeant Paul Ferrara.

Welsh, together with five other members of the 110th Precinct, including commanding officer Deputy Inspector Ronald D. Leyson, volunteered Thursday to shave their hair for Ferrara, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January.


“It’s all for a great cause , for Paul, for a fellow brother,” said Welsh, who has been growing his hair out since last September. “It wasn’t even a question, [Ferrara] is one of the most liked men in the precinct.”

Ferrara started his career in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct in 1992 and then was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and assigned to the 110th Precinct. During his 22 years of service, Ferrera has been a 9/11 first responder and former anti-crime sergeant, and now serves as a counter terrorism supervising officer.

Ferrara’s diagnosis is currently being linked to what he, together with other first responders, faced at Ground Zero in 2001.

The 110th Precinct came together last month to start a fundraiser to collect money to help the 44-year-old NYPD officer and his family with medical expenses. Ferrara is married and has a 12-year-old son.

As part of the fundraiser, officers at the precinct, which encompasses Corona and Elmhurst, came up with the idea to “put a price on the commanding officer’s head” and have the officer with the highest donation shave Leyson’s hair.

Through a collaborative effort, the highest donation was $1,500 and Police Officer William Bahrenburg, who also shaved his hair and mustache, had the honor Thursday of shaving the deputy inspector’s hair.

“Like the police department does, we get together to help out one another,” Leyson said. “I’ve been on the job for over 20 years and there’s a lot of things that we complain about, but it is a family, when one of us is in need, that’s one thing this police department always does – step up.”

Police Officers Matthew Zimmerman and Thompson Wen, and Auxiliary Police Officer Chris Lui also volunteered to have their hair shaved in honor of Ferrara.

“It’s just the right thing to do. He’s always been there for me,” Wen said. “Hair grows back.”

So far, the precinct has collected a total of $40,000. The 81st Precinct has also contributed to the fundraiser.

“It’s the proudest I’ve been because none of this has to be done, but it’s getting done anyway,” Ferrara said.

The donations will be presented to Ferrara on Sunday, April 27 during a fundraising event at Lily Flanagan’s Pub in Babylon, Long Island.

Anyone interested in donating can mail or drop off a check at the precinct, located at 94-41 43rd Ave. in Elmhurst. Checks should be made out to the 110th Precinct General Fund, with “Sergeant Ferrara Fund” written on the memo line.



Former fire chief, first responder laid to rest

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Funeral services were held for a 9/11 first responder and former chief of the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department & Ambulance Corps.

Former Chief John Velotti passed away on Thursday, August 30 after a battle with lung cancer.

Velotti is survived by a daughter, Tara McCarthy, and companion Joanne M. Karl, according to his obituary in Newsday. He was buried at Calverton National Cemetery in Wading River, Suffolk County.

Although Velotti had relocated further east in his final years, he made Howard Beach his home, said current Hamilton Beach chief Joseph M. Vasquezaldana.

Velotti came to the station when Vasquezaldana’s father was chief, and he soon became a family friend. After some time serving in Hamilton Beach, Vasquezaldana said Velotti eventually developed a love of the community and moved there.

Like many other, the two-time chief responded to Ground Zero on 9/11 and spent many hours working in the rubble, Vasquesaldana said. It is not sure if Velotti developed cancer from the toxins at the site, but the current chief said many others had in the past.

Of the more than 12,000 who responded, nearly 300 police officers have been diagnosed with cancer since the tragedy, according to a 2011 Huffington Post article. Congress signed into effect the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2011 to provide health care relief to first responders who developed illnesses from Ground Zero.

The weight of the tragedy, regardless, is being felt at firehouses throughout the city, Vasquezaldana said.

“This is the second chief we’re burying because of a 9/11 illness.”