Hudson Valley Hero Receives New York’s Highest Honor
A Hudson Valley man who pulled an unconscious woman from her flipped over burning car received New York's highest honor.
On April 19, a car went off the road, struck a rock wall, overturned and caught fire on the Taconic State Parkway. The driver, 56-year-old Linda Gironda of Yorktown, was trapped inside her burning car.
Brian Geary, 30, from East Fishkill, a Metro-North Railroad employee, was driving on the Taconic at 2:30 a.m., heading to an MTA training course in White Plains, when he passed a car that was overturned and on fire on a rocky ledge on the side of the road.
“I’ve never been one to sit around and wait for someone else to help. Flames were burning through the engine of a rolled over car, with someone possibly trapped inside. There was no time for waiting around. I had to take action before it was too late,” Geary said/
Geary stopped his car and drove in the wrong direction to get to the crash site. He noticed an unconscious woman wedged diagonally in the front of the vehicle.
Geary ran back to his car in hopes of finding a fire extinguisher. Instead, he found a baseball bat. He ran back to the burning car and started swinging the bat at the windshield.
After many strikes against the windshield, it finally started to crack. At that point, Geary was able to rip out the windshield and, with the help of others, lift the woman out of her burning car.
The vehicle was completely engulfed in flames about a minute after the woman was pulled from the car, officials say.
For his life-saving efforts, on Tuesday, Senators Sue Serino (R, C, I – Hyde Park) and Terrence Murphy (R, C, G, I, SC – Yorktown) honored Geary with a New York State Liberty Medal, the State’s highest honor.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to put yourself in harm’s way and to not be a bystander in times of trouble,” Serino said. “Mr. Geary’s quick thinking and determination to act, along with his sense of humility following the event, is truly inspiring. It is my hope that Mr. Geary’s story will inspire and motivate us all to make a difference in our community.”
The woman was transported to Westchester Medical Center with undisclosed but non-life threatening injuries.
"Brian Geary is a hero in every sense of the word," Murphy said. “Sometimes, the hero is an ordinary citizen who does an extraordinary thing. In this emergency, the first responder just happened to be a citizen who had the bravery to respond first."
The NYS Liberty Medal is awarded as a commendation for exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts on behalf of New Yorkers.
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