New York Daily News

Upd.: April 26, 2016, 8:49 AM

  

 

NYPD officer who nearly died, lost partner in Coney Island fire testifies against teen who allegedly sparked the blaze 

BY CHRISTINA CARREGA-WOODBY

DCPI
NYPD Officer Rosa Rodriguez was discharged from Weill Cornell Medical Center on May 19, 2014 — three weeks after the Coney Island blaze.

The NYPD officer whose lungs were destroyed because of the smoke inhaled from a fire in Coney Island allegedly set by a bored teen recalled Monday how that day forever changed her life.

Officer Rosa Rodriguez was on patrol with Officer Dennis Guerra when they reported to a fire at 2007 Surf Ave. on April 6, 2014 that was allegedly set by Marcell Dockery.

“I tried to find the exit door, but it was difficult to breathe. We were feeling on the walls. I remember holding on to Guerra’s shoulders,” said Rodriguez in a permanent low tone of voice.

    
AP  
Dennis Guerra was killed in the April 2014 blaze.  

“I didn't want to lose him,” she added.

Rodriguez’s answers were barely audible even though she spoke into a microphone with speakers.

Prosecutor Howard Jackson assisted with Rodriguez’s answers by repeating.

The jurors were shown surveillance footage from outside the Coney Island building, inside the lobby of the first and twelfth floors as well as inside the elevator.

Around 12:25 p.m., Dockery, then 16, entered the building and may have went up the 13th floor. He lived on the 12th floor. Less than seven minutes later, neighbors reported a fire.

The video showed Guerra and Rodriguez exit their marked patrol car. Jurors heard Guerra tell the dispatcher that he saw “smoke coming out of the window.”

The cops took the elevator — but were not prepared for the thick cloud of black smoke.

“The elevator filled with smoke. We were able to walk out of the elevator, but had difficulty breathing,” said Rodriguez.

Guerra’s widow, Cathy, mother Miriam and several uniformed NYPD cops sitting in the courtroom were reduced to tears as the last footage and audio of their loved one was shown in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

Rodriguez, 38, and Guerra frantically called in to the dispatcher for help and that they could not breath. Several first-responders entered the building to aid them.

“I took off my face piece and gave it to her to give her whatever oxygen I had left. I did chest compressions to help her heart beat,” said FDNY Robert Iohrs.

Rodriguez was not breathing and had no heartbeat. Guerra, an eight-year veteran, was pronounced dead, said paramedic Maggie Weaver.

The surviving officer’s next memory was three weeks later at Cornell Hospital, where she spent 44 days.

JEFF BACHNER/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Marcell Dockery, accused of setting the blaze that killed one NYPD officer and seriously injured another, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

“I feel totally different than before. I can’t climb stairs or play with my kids anymore. I lost my voice as well,” said Rodriguez, a mother of four who will eventually need a lung transplant because of scarring from the fire.

Fire Marshal Andre Ramos determined the fire was not accidental.

“There's a clean burn pattern all around, the paint on the wall were burned off and all you have left is bare concrete,” said Ramos.

If convicted, 18-year-old Dockery faces 25 years to life in prison.