These two bystanders are being praised as good Samaritans after saving a Suffolk County police officer’s life.
Retired NYPD officer, JR Recupero, and U.S. Marine Guillermo Sandoval were commended at a press conference this afternoon for their heroic actions that saved officer Christopher Racioppo’s life on Saturday night.
While on routine patrol in Patchogue, the 31-year-old officer reportedly spotted a car driving erratically with its headlights off and attempted to pull the vehicle over, which then crashed into another car.
A physical altercation ensued between the two individuals and the driver stabbed Racioppo in the leg, damaging a major artery.
Both Recupero and Guillermo witnessed the situation unfold and sprang into action.
Recupero apprehended the driver while Guillermo used his combat training to wrap a tourniquet around Racioppo’s injured leg.
“We saw that [the officers] will go above and beyond and Officer Racioppo put his life on the line, and what we saw was the responding officers using their training to save the officer’s life,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
Dr. James Vosswinkel, chief of trauma surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, said Racioppo sustained a life-threatening injury and could have lost his life in just 20 minutes if it wasn’t for the immediate actions of these two Suffolk County residents and officers on the scene.
Vosswinkel said the tourniquet slowed down the bleeding and allowed medical professionals to save the use of the officer’s leg.
Sergeant Frank Samartino was also on the scene and recalled the moment Racioppo radioed him for help.
“I knew I had seconds to get him out of there,” Samartino said, holding back tears.
The officer was transported by Samartino and others at the scene to the nearest trauma center at Long Island Community Hospital.
Racioppo is currently in the trauma ICU at Stony Brook University hospital in critical condition receiving constant care, but is “not out of the woods yet.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called Racioppo a hero whose actions “represent the best of the department” and potentially saved other lives while endangering his own.
Bellone also recognized the life-saving efforts of Recupero, Guillermo, and Samartino, who rushed to the scene.
“The decisions that were made were all critical in saving this officer’s life,” Bellone said. “I could not be more proud of the actions of our officers, but also the actions of these good Samaritans and Suffolk County residents who stepped up.”
Top: Sergeant Frank Samartino speaking at Monday afternoon’s press conference.