North Babylon High grad has rescuer in audience

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A Suffolk County Police officer, who more than six years ago, saved a young girl from drowning is attending her high school graduation Saturday.

Sarah Thalhammer will graduate from North Babylon High School at noon on the school's football field.

Officer Matthew DeMatteo will be among the many people cheering on Thalhammer as she walks across the stage. Her family never forgot DeMatteo's heroic efforts and invited him to her graduation.

In January 2011, DeMatteo responded to a call about a child who'd fallen through the ice into the Great South Bay in Sayville.

Thalhammer, then 11, had been pulled onto the ice by a neighbor's dog.

DeMatteo crawled onto the ice to reach her about 50 yards offshore in 4 feet of water. She couldn't move, but he pulled her back to the shore.

At one point, the two fell through the ice, but were thrown a rope by rescuers, and DeMatteo was able to stand up in the water and carry Thalhammer to safety.

He received numerous awards for his effort, including Officer of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and the SCPD Meritorious Police Service Award.

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