The Borough of Brooklyn officially added six more citizens to the roster of bravest.
For quickly and courageously working together to save the life of a 9-year-old girl after a multi-car accident caused by a drunken driver left her nearly dead in the streets of Brownsville on Dec. 19, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz issued citations commending the group of men for their heroism.
“Gentlemen, you’ve made Brownsville and Brooklyn proud,” said Markowitz as he presented each of the six men with a citation and a button and fitted cap emblazoned with the logo of the Brooklyn Nets.
“All of you represent the best of Brooklyn–and America–and one thing’s for sure. You’ve got plenty of what we call the Brooklyn attitude, meaning you’re tough, resilient and, most importantly, always thinking of others and quick to give a helping hand.”
With smiles, Keith Anderson, Christopher Bullock, Arthur Lasane, Rusty Greene, Michael Ward and Ronalde Kittles accepted the gifts and kind words, but told the AmNews they wanted to do more.
Ward, the first of the six men to respond to the accident, said he was happy to see the injured girl recovering, but “I wish I could have done something sooner. When I rushed to the car, I tried to lift it up, there were still three people inside. I couldn’t do it, so I grabbed these other guys–I didn’t know them–and told them that we gotta lift this thing. We did and got Tawaiian out, but it took a while before the ambulance responded. I only reacted as fast as I did because of my previous first-aid training. But, I wish I was a doctor or we had any one of us a doctor, so that we could have given her some medical help right there and then.”
On Dec. 19, fourth-grader Tawaiian Holmes was riding her scooter alongside her mother, sister and father near Livonia and Rockaway Avenues when a multi-car accident left her 85-pound body pinned underneath one of the vehicles, her legs crushed. The six men, most of whom are fathers, had witnessed the accident, heard E-Zara Paul, the girl’s mother, screaming for help, and rushed to the girl’s aid by lifting up a 2-ton sedan. They then removed her safely from the scene of the accident, where they reportedly waited at least 18 minutes for paramedics to arrive.
Markowitz called the response time “bad and unacceptable. That was something I didn’t know. That response time is not good, and we need to find out why it took so long. We have to find out what happened.”
As a result of the accident, Tawaiian suffered two broken legs. The road to full recovery will be long, according to her mother.
“She’s still seeing doctors, but she’s stable,” said Paul. “But, it’s gonna take some time. Doctors are saying that she may not be able to walk until two years, but they’re hopeful for a great outcome because she’s young and vibrant.”
In a community plagued by senseless incidents of violence and youth fatalities, the possibility of residents being inured to bad news or accustomed to apathy is real. Yet, the heroism exhibited by these six Black men and this citation presents a new story for Brownsville in 2013, a story of heroes in the hood.
When asked if they felt like heroes, each of the men told the AmNews “no.”
“I know the cameras are on us now,” Greene said as he pointed at the people in the rotunda in Borough Hall, where he had just received his button, cap and citation. “Right now, everyone else here is finding a way to benefit. But when this is all done, we gotta go back right to the lives we were living before this.”
When pressed about what resources may be available to improve the skills of citizen first responders, Markowitz said his hands were tied.
“We only have money for capital [expenditures]. We can buy ambulances, but we don’t have funds to train anyone. It doesn’t work that way. Of course, I’d be open to such a thing, but the City Council has funds for programs. I just get capital.”