EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 29, 2013

Editorial: Heroes can be found in everyday life

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Just as the Boston Marathon bombing did, an incident in Londonderry showed there are heroes everywhere, ready to act when the need arises.

After the bombs exploded at the finish of the marathon, ordinary people, as well as trained first responders, rushed toward the sites of the two blasts to help the injured.

In Londonderry recently, six strangers came together at the scene of a car accident and worked together to save a woman’s life.

Laurie Donofrio, 43, of Windham was driving on Gilcreast Road when police say she had some kind of medical event. Her car hit a guardrail, rolled over and landed on its roof in Beaver Brook. Five passers-by and a nearby resident immediately jumped into action to save her.

“I was in my house and I heard this crazy noise,” Doug Ball, who lives on Gilcreast Road, told reporter Alex Lippa. “I knew it wasn’t normal. I saw a tree waving back and forth, and I immediately knew it was an accident.”

As Ball rushed to the accident scene, he was joined by Craig Dempsey of Windham, Mike Elliott of Derry, Bernie Rouillard of Windham, Jim Ornsteen of Londonderry and Robert Maiella of Derry. Each of them had pulled their cars over and immediately entered the water to rescue Donofrio.

The car was upside-down and Donofrio was in the water. The men were unable to open the passenger side door or force it open with a pry bar. So to buy time, the men rolled the 3,200-pound Toyota Camry up onto its side. They smashed their way in through the rear window, entered the car and lifted Donofrio’s head out of the water. After cutting away her seat belts, Donofrio coughed up water and began to breathe. They pulled her out through the front window and carried her to shore.

EMTs and firefighters responded moments later and transported Donofrio by ambulance to Parkland Medical Center in Derry. The rescuers were treated for cuts on their hands and arms.

The men were modest about what they had done.

“I didn’t even think twice,” Ball told our reporter. “I just went right in there and did what I had to do.”

But police praised the men for their quick action.

“What they did made a huge difference,” Londonderry police Lt. Kevin Cavallaro said. “If it wasn’t for them, I think it’s safe to say we are dealing with another tragedy this week.”

Heroism can be found not just at major tragedies that attract national attention but also in the smaller incidents and accidents of everyday life. Heroes are those who do what must be done to save others without regard to their personal safety.

These six men made a difference. They saved a life. We thank them for their quick thinking and prompt action.

“These men are the heroes in this call,” Londonderry acting fire Chief Darren O’Brien said. “If it wasn’t for them, this would have been a significantly different outcome.”