Con Edison Media Relations
Contact: Chris Olert
Telephone: (212) 460-4111
For Immediate Release: November 6, 2002
CON EDISON WORKERS RESCUE INFANT, MOM FROM BRONX INFERNO
NEW YORK - One minute splicing, the next a Spiderman rescue.
Two veteran Con Edison workers used Superhero moves to pluck a Bronx woman and her infant daughter from a burning building next to their work site.
Joseph Benestante of Bergenfield, N.J., and Pablo Santiago of The Bronx, were repairing feeder 71 on Sunday night (November 3) when a police car screeched to a stop near their setup on Gun Hill Road and Webster Avenue. “Somebody started screaming from a building across the street,” said Benestante. “Smoke was pouring out of the roof and a couple of seconds later I saw flames.”
He and Santiago ran to the building. City cops ran into the building to herd tenants into the chilly night. “A lady came out of her window on the fourth (top) floor with a baby in her arms crying ‘My baby, my baby,” said Benestante. “I was halfway across the street and I was afraid she was going to drop the baby (to me). She was scaring the hell out of me.”
His fear boiled to adrenaline. Benestante scaled a security gate, swung himself on to an awning and climbed to a dangling fire escape ladder. As he freed the fire escape, the screaming woman was scrambling down the fire escape. “She just sat down on the steps. She was hysterical,” he said. The woman handed the baby to a neighbor who had popped out of a window and the neighbor passed the baby to Benestante. Tucked in the mechanic’s arms, the baby and Benestante went down the ladder, as a rung broke under the hero’s weight. “I handed the baby down to Pablo Santiago. The baby was crying and the mother was more hysterical.” Santiago reunited the mother and tiny girl on the sidewalk as firefighters arrived.
Santiago and Benestante, both 29 year veterans, have worked together since their first days with Con Edison; Santiago’s a splicer; Benestante a mechanic A
EMS workers treated the mother and baby.