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103rd cop saves flight attendant after Hawaii call

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Detective Charles LoPresti of the 103rd Precinct has tackled hundreds of cases involving emergency calls all over the city in his 22-year career with New York’s Finest, but he successfully handled one of the longest distance pleas for help his squad has received.

LoPresti and a team of three detectives were able to save a distraught, 32-year-old flight attendant who attempted suicide while staying in a flight crew crash pad in Jamaica. The detective, who has spent 20 combined years with the stationhouse, said he and his partners were lucky to save Averie Kenery because her family called the NYPD from their home in Honolulu, Hawaii, and did not know her exact location.

Fortunately, according to LoPresti, his experience has taught him to stay calm, think on his feet and help her at all costs.

“To me, I don’t think anyone can be prepared for something like that. It’s all about personal judgment,” he said.

Around 5 p.m. that day, LoPresti was at his desk on the third floor of the precinct when his phone kept ringing. The person calling was the sister-in-law of Beth Walz, Kenery’s mother, and was frantic because Walz needed help immediately, the detective recalled.

Walz had just gotten off the phone with her daughter, who used her cellphone to give a goodbye message as she took pills and tried to kill herself. The detective called up Walz directly and took down the details about what was going on.

“She said, ‘I’ve called everyone and no one has come to help me,’” LoPresti said.

The mother said Kenery’s phone line was still open and she was somewhere in Hillside Avenue where she regularly stays in-between flights. LoPresti called his partners and got into a squad car with their sirens on to the location.

The detective said they got a hit because the mother mentioned that Kenery, who also lives in Honolulu but commutes to New York frequently for her job as a flight attendant for Delta, was staying in a house.

“I was really relieved when I saw only two houses at the intersecti­on,” LoPresti said.

After knocking on the doors to both buildings, the detectives found the crash pad and told the landlord about the situation. An initial search, in which LoPresti broke down two doors, yielded no sign of the Kenery, but her mother came to the rescue again.

Walz said she could hear LoPresti’s call for help from her daughter’s cell phone and called the station to let them know. After he rang up Kenery’s phone and heard the ring, the detective found the flight attendant in-between the bed and wall, unconscious.

An ambulance was called in and she was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, but there were no immediate signs that she was going to make it.

“When they said respiratory arrest, I thought I failed,” LoPresti said.

Kenery, who has two children, was in a coma for two days but regained consciousness and is expected to make a full recovery, the police said. LoPresti said he breathed a huge sigh of relief when she personally thanked him at the hospital for saving her life.

“I knew once she said thank you, she appreciated that she was alive,” he said.

Walz was grateful for LoPresti’s heroics and gave him a big hug when she came to New York to see her daughter, according to the detective.

His heroics have brought him praise from his comrades at the Jamaica stationhouse and leaders such as Borough President Helen Marshall. She will be honoring his deed at the next Borough Cabinet meeting in September.

“He expanded the boundaries of his Queens precinct by thousands of miles and, according to police, saved a woman’s life,” she said in a statement.

Despite the praise, the detective, who has three children of his own, said he does not consider himself a superhero.

“It’s not unusual. We’re saving lives all the time,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 12:01 pm, October 12, 2011
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