Officer hurt in fire by "bored" teen leaves hospital - My9 New Jersey

Officer hurt in fire by "bored" teen leaves hospital

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NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra, 38. NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra, 38.
Marcell Dockery, 16, Marcell Dockery, 16,

By VERENA DOBNIK | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City police officer who survived a Coney Island fire last month that killed her partner left the hospital Monday to wild cheers from her fellow officers and the sound of bagpipes.

A beaming officer Rosa Rodriguez rolled out of Weill Cornell Medical Center into the sunshine in a wheelchair and attached to an oxygen tank — but in a police uniform jacket. She was followed by New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Thank you, thank you," the mother of four repeated quietly to a crowd of hundreds — NYPD officers, medical staff, other officials and media.

Rodriquez was released after more than a month at the Manhattan hospital, including the first four days in a coma.

Her lap was filled with some of the dozens of flower bouquets sent to her, while her daughters — 9 and 11 — bounced around her in police caps, carrying more flowers. The still recovering officer headed home to Queens in an unmarked police car.

Dr. Palmer Bessey, associate director of the Weill Cornell burn center, said Monday that the 36-year-old officer had about a 50-50 chance of surviving when she was rushed to the hospital on April 6 after the fire.

Her patrol partner, Dennis Guerra, died days after the two were overcome by smoke while responding to a 911 call from a Coney Island housing project. Police say a teenager had set fire to a mattress in a hallway, saying later that he did it because he was "bored." The 16-year-old is now charged with murder and awaiting trial.

Guerra's relatives were at the hospital as Rodriquez was released, offering their support.

Rodriguez has told police officials that she's eager to go back to work.

Deputy NYPD Inspector Carlos Valdez said Monday that she started to feel better a few weeks ago, and recently, "she whispered she was ready to go out, to go back on patrol."

But Bessey said it could take as long as a year for her carbon-monoxide damaged lungs to fully heal. And then, he said, the question is whether she'll be mentally ready to face the dangers of police work.

Being suddenly faced with the possibility of dying after a harrowing emergency "really changes your perspective on the world and what you can and cannot do," he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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