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South Side High School juniors lauded for heroism

Pair helped rescue trapped motorists in Baldwin

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Local elected officials and residents recently gathered to celebrate the bravery and heroism of two young Rockville Centre men, Billy Mohr and Patrick Erickson, after the pair helped save a passenger trapped in an overturned car in Baldwin on the night of March 13.

The pair, both juniors at South Side High School, received honors for their efforts. Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Town of Hempstead Clerk Kate Murray and Village Trustees Nancy Howard and Emilio Grillo were on hand in front of Village Hall on March 22 to praise Mohr and Erickson and present them with more proclamations than they could hold.

“It looked like it was out of a movie,” Erickson said.

The two were in the backseat of a friend’s car on March 13 at around 11:30 p.m., traveling on Grand Avenue in Baldwin, when they spotted an overturned sedan where the road meets Demott Avenue, according to Jerry Brown, public information officer for the Baldwin Fire Department.

Erickson and Mohr immediately told their friends to pull over, and the two called 911 as they ran over to the three injured passengers lying in the street.

Glass and metal were strewn over the pavement as the pair arrived to help. As the three injured passengers struggled to find their bearings, they screamed to Erickson and Mohr that one of their friends was still in the car. The boys sprinted over to one of the back doors of the overturned vehicle and tried to rip it open with help from two other pedestrians who happened upon the crash.

Together, the two boys and the two other men who joined them ripped the door off its hinges. One of the pedestrians had a pocketknife, which allowed Erickson and Mohr to cut the tangled seatbelt. With the last injured passenger free, the boys took a second to collect themselves as emergency services arrived only three minutes after their call.

“I didn’t really think about if I would get hurt,” Mohr said. “I don’t know what it was, but something just made me feel like we have to go over there and help them.”

Mohr and Erickson said there was no time to mull over what they should do. There was an instinctual and instant understanding between both boys that they needed to act fast.

“We just sort of knew,” Mohr said. “We didn’t say anything. We both just got out of the car and ran over.”

Maybe that instinct was passed down to Mohr as his father, Billy, and grandfather, Lou, have served the village as firefighters for decades.

Members of the Baldwin Fire Department and the Nassau County Police Department arrived and transported the three injured passengers to Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, Brown said. Two engine companies, a ladder company and emergency medical services also responded.

Erickson, Mohr and their two friends took a moment to collect themselves in their car. Erickson and Mohr realized they had blood all over their hands and clothes. They were in shock, the two recalled.

The group drove around for a little while, trying to settle themselves before heading back to Rockville Centre. Even after each arrived at home and told their families what had happened, they were still thinking about the scene they had happened upon and called each other trying to calm each other down.

Friends and family watched proudly at the recognition ceremony as the state, county, town and village officials lauded the teens’ efforts.

“They are true hometown heroes,” Murray said at the ceremony, “and the village of Rockville Centre is a better place to live because of them.”