In every community, there is a group of dedicated men and women who risk their lives daily to protect the members of that community. They consider the risks to be “part of the job”. Unfortunately, not all citizens of those communities understand the hardships inherent in carrying out these important tasks.
On Friday, March 2nd, 2018, The 100 Club of Buffalo hosted the 60th Annual Hero Awards Dinner at The Buffalo Club and honored six individuals from Western New York for acts of heroism in emergency situations
Dinner guests included representatives of local law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services as well as 100 Club of Buffalo members and supporters. After a cocktail hour, guests made their way into the main dining room at The Buffalo Club. The dinner was formally called to order with a bagpiper leading the opening procession that included Shield, the canine partner of fallen Officer Craig Lehner of the Buffalo Police Department. Members of the Buffalo Police Underwater Recovery Team followed Shield.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by NYS Trooper Jack Moretti, a moment of silence was held in honor of Officer Lehner as taps played. Welcoming remarks were provided by Dan Penberthy, out-going president of the 100 Club of Buffalo who then introduced Jenn Schanz, investigative reporter from WIVB Channel 4 and emcee for the event.
The main program was the presentation of the 2017 Hero Awards. Recognized were two civilians and four first responders.
2017 Hero Award Recipients
Mr. Brendan Seney
Award Presented By Daniel Slawson
Ringing in the New Year proved to be more than Brendan Seney had bargained for while walking to his west side home with his fiancé and friends after watching the City of Buffalo ball drop on January 1, 2017. Brendan heard a loud crash and realized two cars had collided and four pedestrians had been struck. Upon witnessing the crash, Brendan immediately ran to assist the injured and provided first aid to one of the pedestrians, a 15 year old boy, who was bleeding profusely from his mangled lower left leg.
Brendan, a boy scout in his younger days, knew enough about first aid to recognize the severity of the boy’s injuries and need to stop the bleeding. He removed his belt and cinched it tight around the boys thigh to work as a tourniquet.
While this was taking place, Brendan’s fiancé, Julia Kestes, was tending to another victim when the driver of the vehicle attempted to leave the scene. Julia had the presence of mind take pictures of the vehicle for identification – fortunately others on the scene stopped the driver and removed him from the vehicle until Buffalo Police arrived. He was subsequently arrested for DWI.
Upon arrival of medical personnel, the 15 year old victim, a City Honors varsity basketball player was rushed by ambulance to the Erie County Medical Center where doctors were forced to amputate his left leg due to the extent of his injuries. Police and medical personnel stated that the outcome could have been much worse if not for the tourniquet being placed around his thigh by Brendan.
Margaret “Peggy” Cieri, RN
Award Presented By Dr. Joshua Lynch
If you ask any doctor who really holds the team together, who provides a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold – we will tell you that person is almost always a nurse. This hero is no exception.
It is no surprise that this nurse had the chance to show her true colors back in the summer of 2017 when she was volunteering at a race. A particular runner was lucky that day when he collapsed not far from this nurse.
When she reached his side, she quickly realized he had no pulse and was not breathing. She instantly began performing CPR and assisted the paramedics to revive him. While leading the team effort to save his life, she coordinated with the paramedics to shock the patient twice and continued high quality CPR.
The patient fortunately regained a pulse and was breathing on his own before paramedics brought him to the hospital. He would certainly not be alive today if it was not for ECMC nurse Margaret Cieri. It is no surprise that with over 20 years of nursing experience, Peggy had no trouble leading the team to save this young man’s life!
Lieutenant Joseph Kalinowski, Buffalo Fire Department
Award Presented By Michael Colpoys
On February 9, 2017 at approximately 6:30am, Lt. Joseph Kalinowski of the Buffalo Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire on Folger St in the city of Buffalo along with the rest of his company. Upon arrival they observed smoke showing from a two story frame structure and a woman visible in a second floor window. An extension ladder was raised and placed within reach of the victim while suppression of the heat and flames was carried out. Lt. Kalinowski, attempted to remove the woman from the burning structure and onto the ladder to no avail as she was scared and reluctant to climb out the window.
At this time, a window directly below the victim self-ventilated surrounding Lt. Kalinowski and the rest of the ladder crew with intense heat and flames. The intense conditions forced Lt. Kalinowski to back down the ladder stalling rescue efforts until the water could be directed at the flames allowing rescue efforts to continue. Once the flames had been sufficiently pushed back, Lt. Kalinowski continued his rescue efforts by convincing the woman to climb out the window where he assisted her onto the ladder and safely down to the ground.
First Assistant Chief Andrew Hallnan, Brighton Fire Department
Award Presented By William Fierle
On October 23, 2017 at approximately 4:51PM Brighton Fire District Assistant Chief Andrew Hallnan, without regard for his own and safety, entered a burning home in the Town of Tonawanda to save the lives of two elderly victims trapped inside.
Upon arrival at the scene ,Assistant Chief Hallnan observed smoke billowing from the rear of the structure and was advised that people were still inside the residence. He donned his SCBA gear and with the assistance of two Town of Tonawanda police officers forced the rear door of the burning building. Facing heavy smoke conditions and before fire apparatus arrived on scene he entered the dwelling, opened the front door and made his way upstairs to the second floor where he found a female victim in a rear bedroom. The victim was conscious and having difficulty breathing but was reluctant to leave as the conditions were deteriorating. Assistant Chief Hallnan determined that rescue through a window and down a ladder was not possible.He wrapped the victim in a blanket from her bed and removed her to the top of the stairs where he followed voice commands through the thick smoke toward the front door to waiting EMS personnel.
Assistant Chief Hallnan ascertained that there was a second victim “downstairs” within the residence but was unsure whether that meant the first floor or the basement. Assistant Chief Hallnan, with the assistance of Kenilworth Fire Company personnel reentered the residence with Kenilworth checking the basement and he the first floor where he had to use a hose line to knock down the flames to allow access to a rear bedroom where he found an elderly male who appeared to be lifeless. Assistant Chief Hallnan radioed for additional manpower and was assisted in removing the male victim from the bedroom by Captain Mommertz. Stumbling over fire debris, they were able to get the victim out the door to awaiting EMS personnel who administered oxygen and first aid and the victim began breathing again.
New York State Police Investigators, Operation Grant’s Tomb
Award Presented By Jane Kwiatkowski
Drug traffickers are a cagey bunch. They know how not to get caught, how to swap out phones, change phone numbers and switch locations. Above all, they know how to put massive amounts of heroin on our streets – while putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in their pockets.
Undercover narcotics investigators can be cagey, too. Three brave men played significant roles in taking down a drug ring that daily pumped thousands of bags of heroin onto our streets. Operation Grant’s Tomb began in early in July 2014 when two half-brothers from Puerto Rico with a violent past controlled the heroin business on the Buffalo’s lower West Side.
Enter, two investigators from the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) — who went undercover and bought heroin. They bought 70 bags from more than 20 sellers, investigators who worked 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. One an undercover veteran; one a rookie.
The sellers moved throughout the City – on Hertel Avenue behind the movie theater in a parking lot. Another favored Tops on Niagara and Maryland streets. One seller set up shop under a bridge on Niagara Street.
A third NY State Police Investigator, on assignment with the Drug Enforcement Administration, had been tracking the same gang for more than a year and joined the fist two investigators in their work. Now using electronic surveillance, it was learned that one of the key drug dealers lived on Potomac Avenue. The other lived on the East Side, on Fillmore Avenue at Smith Street. And a house on Grant Street north of Forest Avenue was identified as the packaging plant where heroin was divided for sale.
Ultimately, fourteen (14) defendants were indicted through the investigation, and on August 9, 2017 DANIEL MOLINARIOS, the ring leader of this drug network, plead guilty and faced up to 40 years in prison and a fine of $5 million.
Last year, the opioid epidemic killed 230 people in Erie County. By breaking up this major heroin distribution ring, these three New York State Police Investigators saved hundreds of lives by putting ruthless drug dealers behind bars for a long time.
Lieutenant Shaun Dimino, Lancaster Police Department
Award Presented By Steven Nigrelli
In the evening hours of November 19, 2017, while off-duty and returning from a weekend visiting family and friends at a hunting camp in southern Chautauqua County, Lt. Shaun Dimino traveled home on Morris Road in Mayville, NY. As he crested a hill in the road, Lt. Dimino noticed a glow in the distance. He initially thought that it may be a bonfire. But as he got closer, he realized it was a house fire. The home had flames and thick smoke emanating from the roof and rear second floor area. Lt. Dimino pulled over and ran to the front door of the residence. He began to pound on the door while screaming to get the attention of whoever may have been inside the house.
Lt. Dimino realizing that the fire was out of control, called Chautauqua County Dispatch. He advised them that he was at a structure fire on Morris Road, but when the 911 Dispatcher requested that house number, he realized the number was not affixed to the residence. Lt. Dimino ran across the street to a neighboring home to ascertain the address and to also inquiry if anyone lived in the home on fire. The neighbor advised him that a disabled gentleman lived alone in that house.
Without hesitation, Lt Dimino gave the phone to the neighbor, so he could provide dispatcher with the necessary information while he sprinted back across the street to the house on fire. The flames now appeared to be engulfing the second floor of the residence and heavy smoke billowed from the roofline.
Lt. Dimino immediately kicked in the front door of the home and was greeted by thick black smoke. He was joined by the neighbor, who helped him search the house. The search was made extremely difficult due to limited visibility and intense heat. Lt. Dimino began to call out as they frantically searched. Lt. Dimino faintly heard the resident calling to them, and upon following the direction of his voice, they discovered him sitting at the table in the smoke filled kitchen.
Lt. Dimino realized the resident was not in his wheelchair and that it would be impossible for him to get out of the house on his own. As Lt. Dimino comforted Mr. Holcomb, the neighbor searched the house and found the wheel chair. The pair placed the resident in his wheel chair and carried him to safety.
The resident was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and later released.
It is obvious that without Lt. Dimino being in the right place at the right time, coupled with his keen observations, his brave and quick actions, and by putting his life on the line for a fellow person, this story would have probably had a tragic ending.
Mr. 100 Club Award
A special award came at the end of the presentations. In recognition of his six years serving as president of the 100 Club of Buffalo, Dan Penberthy was presented with the Mr. 100 Club Award.
As is tradition at the Hero Awards Dinner, the in-coming president of the 100 Club of Buffalo officially begins his term. New president, Peter Casilio, provided some comments to close-out the Hero Awards ceremony.
The 100 Club of Buffalo would like to thank the following sponsors who help to make our 60th annual Hero Awards dinner a success
The Erie County Medical Center
Ross B. Kenzie
Reginald B. Newman
Robert M. Zak
James W. Derrick
2018 – 100 Club Hero Awards Table Sponsors
Arthur F. DuC. Musarra
Buffalo Police PBA
Jack Moretti – New York State Troopers-PBA
James Roberton – Delaware North
Ronald Mornelli – Health Now/ Blue Cross & Blue Shield
Richard Qualey – New York State Police Investigators Association
The 100 Club of Buffalo
Dr. Joshua Lynch
Buffalo Professional Firefighters Local #282
Awards Dinner Committee
Frank E. Broderick
Arthur F. DuC Musarra