SOUNDVIEW, Bronx - The MTA police officer who helped catch the man accused of running down FDNY EMT Yadira Arroyo was honored at her station house Monday.
Arroyo's relatives and co-workers thanked MTA K-9 Officer Daniel McDade at a ceremony in front of the EMS Station 26.
There was a large turnout for the event on Boston Road in the Bronx, and fire commissioner Daniel Nigro also was in attendance.
Arroyo, known to friends and colleagues as Yadi, was killed in the line of duty in March when she was run over by her own ambulance allegedly stolen by Jose Gonzalez.
McDade dragged Gonzalez out of the driver's seat of the vehicle and, with the help of two other people, held him until police arrived.
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"The true honor and the true heroism goes to Yadi," he said. "I just happened to be here to be here to be able to speak about it. One of the saddest things about the whole situation is that after speaking to all the members here, family of Yadi, I realized she was an amazing, amazing person. And the only thing I'm hearing about is all good things. I'm sad about it, because I'll never get to know her. But this is a true honor, and I just want to thank the FDNY and everybody here. It's a true honor, and thank you very much. I appreciate it."
He said it was a fluke that he happened to be driving in that area at that moment, having hit traffic before diverting off his normal route.
"The only thing I can really say is that I was just glad I was there to stop the threat," he said. "And if it stopped, maybe, him from doing something else, then that's OK."
Gonzalez was seen clinging to the back of the moving ambulance in the seconds before witnesses said he jumped off to rob a boy with a backpack. Arroyo had gotten out to help the boy, and the suspect allegedly hopped into the driver's seat and ran her down.
"She tried to go back in the vehicle to drag him out," witness Anis Nagi said. "And there's like seconds, and he just reversed the car so hard and slammed her."
Arroyo was a 14-year veteran of the FDNY and a mother of five sons. Thousands of mourners gathered to bid her a final farewell at her funeral last month.