SELDEN, Long Island (PIX11) -- Nikki Motta had a Christmas wish -- and she wanted PIX 11 News to help her attain it.
Motta, 21, wanted to know if we could we contact Officer Matthew Siesto at the Suffolk County Police Department, before the holiday. Motta had something she wanted to give him.
Motta arrived at the 6th Precinct in Selden on this Christmas Day bearing several gifts, including one that was very special.
It was a tiny, angel pin — and it carried a lot of meaning for Motta.
“It’s extremely symbolic; I can’t wait to give it to him,” Motta told PIX 11 News outside the precinct Thursday. “He’s given so much to me, he’s given me life.”
Just over two years ago — in October 2012 — Siesto saved Motta two different times, in less than a month, from a fatal, heroin overdose.
Then, at age 19, Motta had been abusing drugs since adolescence.
Her beloved father had died when she was 10. Her mother’s live-in boyfriend smoked crack and abused prescription painkillers, which Motta ended up experimenting with.
Later, she graduated to heroin use.
PIX 11 News met Motta when we were researching our series, “Heroin, A to Z.”
We surprised her in November, by flying Officer Siesto to Georgia, so he could see how she was progressing in recovery.
She had been clean nearly a year when they re-connected. Motta has a job at the Yamaha Motor Corporation in a suburb of Atlanta. The officer said he would see her back on Long Island at Christmas.
Siesto was working this Christmas, so Motta’s cousins drove her to the 6th Precinct. The officer seemed moved when he saw the angel pin.
A short poem on the box said, “Protect our police every day. Keep them from harm’s way.”
Siesto observed, “We certainly need that now,” referring to the two, NYPD police officers who were executed in Brooklyn, sitting in their patrol car last Saturday.
“Thank you, Nikki,” he said, giving a hug to the young woman. “I will wear this.”
He asked Motta to pin the angel on his police shirt, joking with her, “Don’t stick me.”
Motta finished the job.
“It’s very special,” Officer Siesto said. “Hopefully, it keeps me safe.”
Motta told PIX 11 News her initial reunion with Officer Siesto last month assisted her tremendously in her recovery.
“It healed something inside of me,” Motta told PIX 11 News. “It helped me. People at work told me I was inspirational. They didn’t judge me.”
Motta said she received scores of cards from her former, Long Island teachers in Hauppauge. She also received a request from Centereach High School. She never graduated from there, but administrators would like her to speak at the school in the spring, about her struggle with heroin abuse—and her continuing recovery.
Heroin killed a record number of people in Suffolk County in 2013 — 100 — and many of the fatalities were young.
Nikki’s cousins — Tina, Joe, and Dom — are seeing a Motta they haven’t seen in quite some time.
“I had presents for everybody,” Nikki said, “and I’m here and alive and happy and I have nothing but good, positive things to tell them.”