NEW YORK (PIX11) — It was a proud moment on Monday for the New York City lifeguards, EMTs and police officers who jumped into action this summer to save a woman’s life after being bitten by a shark at Rockaway Beach.
During a ceremony Monday night at City Hall, Mayor Eric Adams praised those involved and handed out citations from the city.
“You were able to save someone’s life. She is with her family because of what you did for her,” Adams said. “We have a New Yorker that is with her family right now because you responded.”
The EMTs honored were Michael Wasilewski and Sean McBride from Station 47. The NYPD officers were John Smith, Austin Beck and Joseph Rinaldo. The lifeguards honored were Kurt Alexander, Romeo Ortiz, William McDonnell, Nora Schreiber and Evan Sheridan.
After the ceremony, Ortiz spoke about the rescue.
“I heard the screaming, I got into action, went in, grabbed her,” he recalled.
He then used a pair of sweatpants to apply an initial tourniquet to 65-year-old Tatyana Koltunyuk’s leg.
“My idea was to stop the bleeding, and I used whatever was available,” he said. “Doubled down with the tourniquet just by using a rope from the buoy string.”
“I applied pressure underneath by using my shirt and also sweatpants,” Schreiber told PIX11 News.
NYPD officers and EMTS arrived, and another tourniquet was applied. Koltunyuk was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and has undergone several surgeries.
Koltunyuk and her family did not attend the ceremony but sent a statement to be read that said in part: “I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to be here and continue to marvel in life’s miracles.”
On a GoFundMe page, Koltunyuk’s daughter described her mother as a “fiercely intelligent and passionate woman” who emigrated from Odesa, Ukraine with her husband and her then-3-year-old child.
“Limitless in the love and generosity she showers upon others, my mother is an empathetic, thoughtful, and deeply proud woman who would never ask for anything, always putting others before herself. So we are asking for help on her behalf,” her daughter wrote.