Tag Archives: FDNY

Family, friends share memories of victims killed in Astoria creek accident


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The four young passengers who died when their car plunged into an Astoria creek after a birthday celebration were always smiling and looking toward the future, their friends and families recalled.

Jada Monique Butts, 19, was a loving person who enjoyed laughing, smiling and having fun, said Tiani Martin, her best friend of more than 10 years. One of five children, the Borough of Manhattan Community College student wanted to one day work behind the scenes in the music industry.

“She was a beautiful spirit and loved to stay positive,” Martin said. “We did everything together and she will live on.”

Butts was one of four East Elmhurst friends who died on April 4 when their Honda Accord rolled over into Steinway Creek in Astoria.

“She was my little right-hand woman,” said Paula Slader, Butts’ mother.

Another passenger was 20-year-old Jaleel Feurtado, who had the dream to play professional basketball after shining bright on the Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School basketball team, remembered his family. Feurtado was an only child and was the eldest of the family’s grandchildren.

“He was a good kid,” said one of his relatives, who wanted to remain unnamed. “He was the apple of our eyes, everyone just loved him.”

Darius Fletcher, 21, and Crystal Gravely, 19, also lost their lives in the accident. Gravely would have celebrated her 20th birthday the following day.

The driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, was traveling at 60 mph when he decided to make a U-turn on the wet road, according to reports. Once the vehicle went into the water, reportedly 8 feet deep, Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, cops said, but his four friends were still inside the car when authorities arrived.

FDNY divers then extracted Fletcher, Butts, Gravely and Feurtado, who were later pronounced dead, according to police.

Gramm was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, police said.

The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is still looking into the accident and one politician has called for a review of safety measures on the various roads leading to the water.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Cloudy early, then off and on rain showers for the afternoon. High 51. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Monday night: Rain likely. Low 47. Winds SE at 15 to 25 mph. Rainfall around a half an inch.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Lecture and Exhibit – The 1964-65 World’s Fair

Rosalie Kenny discusses the fair, which is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th-century American culture and technology, including the launch of the Ford Mustang. Event also kicks off exhibit of at least 30 rare photographs from 1939 and 1964 fairs which runs through June 30 at the Greater Astoria Historical Society. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD: Crime up 30 percent in housing projects

Some of the mayoral candidates, including the current mayor spent a night in the Lincoln housing projects, vowing to make conditions better for the residents. Read more: Fox New York

Charity brawl: NYPD, FDNY engage in wild fisticuffs at Nassau Coliseum

Moral of the story? Boys will be boys, even if they are playing for a good cause. Read more: CBS New York

Health Department fails to regularly inspect abortion clinics

The state Health Department is failing to inspect many of New York’s abortion clinics — with some facilities escaping scrutiny for more than a decade, bombshell documents obtained by The Post reveal. Read more: New York Post

NY task force to study rise in heroin, opioid use

A legislative task force in New York is taking a look at ways to address the rise in heroin and opioid abuse. Read more: NBC New York. Read more: NBC New York

Legendary actor Mickey Rooney dies at 93

Mickey Rooney’s approach to life was simple: “Let’s put on a show!” Read more: AP

Four dead after car plunges into Astoria creek


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos via Facebook

Updated 2:30 p.m.

Four people are dead after their car went into an Astoria creek Friday night, according to the NYPD.

A Honda Accord, driven by a 20-year-old man, was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street about 10:40 p.m. when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek, police said.

The driver managed to escape the vehicle, cops said, but  four people were still inside the car when authorities arrived. FDNY divers then extracted the passengers,  Darius Fletcher,21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Furtado, 20, all from East Elmhurst, according to police.

The women and one of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were pronounced dead, officials said. The second man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was also pronounced deceased.

The 20-year-old driver was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where he is currently listed in stable condition, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, according to police.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is looking into the accident.

 

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3-alarm fire breaks out in South Richmond Hill home, damages second house


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sara E. Diaz

A blaze broke out at a home in South Richmond Hill Sunday afternoon, damaging a neighboring home.

The fire started about 11:25 a.m. at an occupied residence on 120th Street and grew to a three-alarm blaze 20 minutes later, the FDNY said. It was under control by about 12:35 p.m., according to fire officials, but not before damaging an adjacent house.

There were no reported injuries and the cause of the blaze is under investigation, the FDNY said.

 

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Firefighters battle blazing Howard Beach brush fire


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Updated Monday, March 17, 9:25 a.m.

More than 100 firefighters tamed a massive brush fire that lit up Howard Beach late Saturday afternoon, the FDNY said.

Flames broke out in a field of reeds near Spring Creek Park at 83rd Street and 163rd Avenue at about 4:20 p.m., fire officials said.

The FDNY said it took about 138 firefighters and 33 units to put out the three-alarm blaze. It was under control by about 6:20 p.m.

There were no reported injuries, according to the Fire Department.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, an FDNY spokesperson said.

 

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Community Board 7 votes to name park after fallen fire marshal


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Randall Wilson

A fallen Queens fire marshal may soon be honored in a way that would allow his young twin boys to grow up realizing their father’s legacy.

Community Board 7 voted Monday to name a playground in Fort Totten after Martin “Woody” McHale, 50, who died of a heart attack in his car Christmas Eve 2012.

McHale, who lived in Hollis Hills, suffered the attack on his way home from work and crashed his car into a tree less than 200 feet from his house, police and the Queens Medical Examiner’s office said.

“Woody was a role model. He was a mentor. He was a fireman’s fireman,” said his boss, Commander Randall Wilson of the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Investigation. “His heart was always in the right place, and if more people had a heart like his, the world would be a much better place.”

McHale, a member of the FDNY for 23 years, was assigned to the bureau’s Citywide North Command in Fort Totten. He would bring his twin 4-year-old boys to the currently nameless playground next to his job on his days off, Wilson said.

“He only had a few short years to spend with his sons,” the fire commander said. “Many of those days were at the playground on Fort Totten. His boys loved it there and Woody cherished the time spent at the playground with them.”

The change needs to be approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Parks Department commissioner.

A bar in the West Village was named after McHale while he was alive.

“Having this park named in his honor would show generations of children just how wonderful he was,” Wilson said. “It would be a legacy for his family and for the fire marshal’s department.”

Community Board 7 also approved a $2.4 million capital Parks Department project to rebuild the crumbling sea wall at Hermon A. Macneil Park in College Point.

The City Council funded plans also include creating a separate fishing area and a kayak launch at the park. The plans still need state Department of Environmental Conservation approval.

 

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Fire breaks out at former Peninsula Hospital


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A blaze broke out at the former Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway Tuesday afternoon, the FDNY said.

The fire started in an outside boiler at the 51-15 Beach Channel Dr. site about 4:45 p.m. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze in about an hour, the FDNY said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Fire officials said the cause is still under investigation.

The hospital closed in 2012.

 

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Church keeps the faith, vows to rebuild after fire


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Parishioners of the Deliverance Tabernacle Church know that despite a fire tearing through their sacred space, greater things are still to come.

“We are devastated that our place of worship has been destroyed, but the cross still stands,” said Donniese Barrow, a church board member. “With all of this damage, the cross did not fall.”

A two-alarm blaze broke out Monday morning about 3 a.m. in the Jamaica church’s basement. Although a cause has yet to be determined, a church official and technician heard it was electrical.

It took the FDNY about an hour to put out the flames, and despite conflicting reports, firefighters had no problems with frozen fire hydrants.

“Reports said [there were problems] but we confirmed the hydrants [were functioning],” said an FDNY spokesperson.

Four firefighters sustained minor injuries and were taken to Jamaica Hospital.

The building was significantly damaged on the inside, but less than a day after the fire, neighboring churches had opened their doors to the 150-person congregation, Barrow said.

“Other churches have reached out to offer space and to try and accommodate us until we find something,” she said. “People have been really supportive.”

Barrow said officials plan to rebuild the space, and despite losing everything, their faith is still alive.

“We know something greater is coming from this,” she said. “It’s going to be a long process. But we are strong and our faith is stronger.”

 

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South Ozone Park church catches fire overnight, injuring four firefighters


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Four firefighters were injured putting out a two-alarm blaze in South Ozone Park.

The Deliverance Tabernacle Church caught fire about 3 a.m. Monday. The FDNY crew was able to extinguish the flames after about an hour and had no problems with frozen fire hydrants, despite conflicting reports.

“Reports said [there were problems] but we just confirmed the hydrants [were functioning]”, said an FDNY spokesperson.

The four hurt firefighters sustained minor injuries and were taken to Jamaica Hospital.

Members of the congregation on Sutter Avenue could not immediately be reached for comment.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Sunny. High near 30. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy this evening, then becoming cloudy after midnight. Low 24. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Big Thing at Laughing Devil Comedy Club 

On Thursdays, come to the Laughing Devil Comedy Club as the best of the New York area (and beyond) showcase who will be the next Big Thing. The Big Thing comedians are all great pros on the rise who have been vetted by the club. If anyone kills on The Big Thing, they earn the coveted position of Club Regular – and you will see them again soon. The show also features some special guest headliners. Starts at 8 p.m. at 4738 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City.

De Blasio swipes at Bloomberg over education

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Fake cabby busted twice at JFK Airport

A fake cabby was busted twice at JFK Airport Wednesday after allegedly offering rides to unsuspecting passengers, a source said. Read more: New York Post

Prostitution ring busted near Super Bowl Boulevard

Undercover agents say they busted a major sex ring inside an apartment building at 37th Street and 6th Avenue just blocks from Super Bowl Boulevard. Read more: ABC  New York

Faced with criticism, Atlanta mayor slams NYC snow response in tweet

The mayor of Atlanta slammed New York City’s snow removal efforts this week, after a New Yorker mocked the response in Atlanta to a snowstorm that amounted to 3 inches. Read more: CBS New York/AP

NYC female firefighters trying to boost numbers

As a New York City firefighter, Sarinya Srisakul didn’t work with another woman for five years, and when she did, she took pictures because it was so rare. Read more: AP

Man found dead with body trauma after Flushing fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 63 year-old man was found dead inside his Flushing home with severe trauma and burns to his body following an early morning fire Friday, police said.

The blaze broke out about 6 a.m. in the basement of a residential building at 43-06 159th St., and was under control by 6:40 a.m., the FDNY said.

After extinguishing the fire, an officer discovered the victim unconscious and unresponsive, police said. He was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead.

The fire marshal will determine the cause of the blaze and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death, the NYPD said.

 

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Two-alarm fire breaks out at DOT garage in Forest Hills


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Don Preus

A two-alarm blaze broke out at a Department of Transportation garage in Forest Hills early Thursday morning, the FDNY said.

The fire started just before 5 a.m. through the roof of the one-story building at 69-46 Sybilla St. It was under control at about 7: 40 a.m., the FDNY said.

There were no injuries reported and the cause is still under investigation, according to the Fire Department.

 

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Queens pro arm wrestlers to be featured on new AMC show


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYC Arm Control

Two Queens professional arm wrestlers will show their muscle in a new series on AMC.

Rob Bigwood, a Forest Hills resident, and Whitestone native Mike Ayello, are part of NYC Arm Control, the New York team on the show. The new series, “Game of Arms,” will feature professional arm wrestling teams from five states. The other members of the New York team are Mike Selearis, Dan Fortuna and Kevin Nelson.

The show intends to reveal the sport of arm wrestling in documentary style episodes starting Feb. 25. It will not only show the brawn that wrestlers need to participate, but the personal lives of the athletes.

“Game of Arms not only focuses on the technique and skill in this high-stakes world, but also the family, careers and personal struggles of each man outside of the sport,” said the AMC website description about the show.

The series will follow the personal lives of the country’s premier arm wrestling figures, such as Ayello, who is a firefighter from Ladder 135 in Glendale. Ayello said the show followed him around at home and also featured his work in the FDNY.

A graduate of Bayside High School, before he became an arm wrestler, he was a bouncer at clubs around New York City. He used to arm wrestle with the fellow bouncers, and being at 6 feet 5 inches, 270 pounds, he always won. Four years ago someone challenged him to wrestle in the professional circuit and he started researching professional arm wrestling and attending amateur tournaments. He quickly worked his way through the ranks and is recognized as one of the strongest arm wrestlers in the country.

Bigwood, who is vegan, is being featured among various accomplished vegan male athletes in a new documentary called “The Game Changers” by James Wilks, a former MMA welterweight champion and fellow vegan.

Both men believe that arm wrestling needs a show, such as the one on AMC, to expand.

“It’s actually a huge underground thing, but no one just taped into it yet, but I think this show will bring it out,” Ayello said.

The series is coming from Matt Renner and Ethan Prochnik, the Emmy Award-winning producers of the “Deadliest Catch,” and executive producer Dan Ilani.

Trailers have already been circulating about the show.

 

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Fire breaks out at JFK Airport


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A fire at a John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport cargo building Tuesday night left more than a dozen people suffering from smoke inhalation, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey said.

The minor trash fire broke out around 7:30 p.m. on the cargo building’s loading bay of cargo building and was out in about 3o minutes, according to the FDNY and Port Authority.

Fourteen people were treated at the scene and four people were taken to the hospital, according to published reports.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials said.

 

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Op-ed: Stay safe – and warm – this winter


| oped@queenscourier.com

 SALVATORE J. CASSANO

More than a third of all serious fires in New York City happen during the winter months, when people often resort to unsafe measures, as they attempt to heat their homes and stay warm. As a result, there are many preventable fires resulting in unnecessary loss of life and property.

Some fires are caused by unattended open flames, such as decorative or commemorative candles, fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. They should never be left unattended and you should always extinguish them completely before going to bed at night.

Other fires are caused by electric heating equipment and the devices used in conjunction with them, like extension cords and power strips. Portable space heaters and electric blankets can be extremely dangerous if they are poorly maintained, inappropriately powered, or – in the case of space heaters – placed too close to combustible objects. You should not purchase these products, or any power strips or extension cords unless they are Underwriters’ Laboratory (UL) approved and have the UL mark. You should also periodically check the integrity of these products to ensure that they don’t become too worn or damaged for use.

Most importantly, every home should have working smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors. These devices save lives. We know this because in nearly 80 percent of the fire deaths in recent years, the Fire Department found no working smoke alarm present.

We have made education about the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms a cornerstone of our Fire Safety Education (FSE) effort. Teams of Fire Safety Educators conduct hundreds of information sessions each year throughout the city, reaching about 600,000 New Yorkers every year, and at the same time they distribute hundreds of thousands of free smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries and tens of thousands of detectors.

During the last year we’ve focused our fire safety efforts on communities impacted by Sandy, because of the many problems associated with the storm in these areas. Dozens of serious fires occurred both during and in the aftermath of the storm, as salt water impacted home electrical systems, and residents in these areas resorted to unconventional and even dangerous ways of heating and powering their homes. This winter, through the Hurricane Sandy Fire Safe Program, Fire Safety Educators have been reaching out to older New Yorkers in areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island that were hit hardest by the storm, hosting educational events, visiting homes to conduct fire safety reviews and discuss fire safety exit plans, and installing smoke, carbon monoxide and hard-of-hearing alarms.

The FDNY has done an extraordinary job in reducing the number of fatal fires in New York City in the last decade – which has been overall the safest in nearly a century of recordkeeping. But, even one death by fire is too many – so, our goal and commitment is to do everything possible to protect everyone from the danger of fires and that starts with prevention.

Please do your part in protecting yourself and your family by adhering to these basic winter fire safety tips, which can be viewed in full at: on.nyc.gov/JhUFjt.

Remember – working smoke detectors save lives! Please make sure you have them in your home!

Salvatore J. Cassano is New York City’s 32nd Fire Commissioner

 

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