There are some people who come into our lives that we just never forget. Whether the interaction was a small one like the stranger that complimented your outfit or a much larger one like meeting a celebrity, certain memories we carry throughout our lives.
For one New York family, an interaction with a police officer changed their lives forever and is a memory they will carry with them forever.
It was January of 2011. Officer Matthew DeMatteo was going about his regular rounds when he received a 911 call about a girl who had fallen through the ice.
Young Sarah Thalhammer had been walking a dog when the animal dragged her out onto the ice of Long Island’s Great South Bay.
DeMatteo quickly arrived on the scene and immediately took action. In an interview he recalls, “I was the first officer on scene and there was a crowd of people on shore so I know there was something going on, something big. I saw little head and nothing but a little head sticking out of the water and that’s when I realized the severity of the situation.”
“So, I laid on my stomach spreading out my body weight with the life ring and I proceeded to crawl out to Sarah. I was able to pull her out.”
He comments that he remembers the event like it was yesterday. Once DeMatteo had a strong hold on Sarah, he made his way back to shore. On the way back, though, the hit a soft spot and both fell through.
“Thankfully I was actually able to stand because we were closer to shore,” said DeMatteo.
The story doesn’t end with the heroic rescue, though. Six years later DeMatteo was blessed with the privilege to attend Sarah’s high school graduation.
Even though all those years had passed, the family and officer stayed connected and were able to share the joy of such a momentous occasion for Sarah.
DeMatteo said, “Like any big thing in your life, it’s engraved in your memory. I still see Sarah. I still see that little girl.”
I think it’s safe to say Officer DeMatteo will never forget the events of that nearly fateful January day and neither will Sarah and her family.
It truly is touching how such a horrific event helped to form a strong bond between the Thalhammer’s and DeMatteo.
FAMILY INVITES SCPD OFFICER DEMATTEO TO ATTEND HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION OF DAUGHTER HE RESCUED 6 YEARS AGOOn January 17, 2011, 11-year-old Sarah Thalhammer plunged into the frozen waters of the Great South Bay after being dragged onto the ice by the dog she was walking. Suffolk County Fifth Precinct Officer Matthew DeMatteo responded to the scene, crawled out onto the dangerously thin ice and carried the girl to safety. On Saturday, more than six years later, Officer DeMatteo proudly looked on as Sarah walked across the stage and received her diploma at her graduation from North Babylon High School.Watch below as Officer DeMatteo reunites with Sarah and her family at the ceremony and recounts their fateful meeting six years ago.
Posted by Suffolk County Police Department on Monday, June 26, 2017
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