Man faces murder charge in EMT's death
Friends, colleagues, community members and even the borough president attended a memorial ceremony Friday at the FDNY station house of an EMT killed in the line of duty earlier this week.
"She wasn't just a mother to five, she was a mother to 100 plus people who worked here," said FDNY Lt. George Lampon, who broke into tears a moment later.
The Bronx man accused of stealing an ambulance and using it to run over and kill 44-year-old EMT Yadira "Yari" Arroyo has been charged with murder.
Jose Gonzalez, 25, who lives on Creston Avenue, was remanded at his arraignment Friday and is due back in court on March 22.
Charges against him include two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree robbery.
Gonzalez told News 12 that he is innocent.
But police say he struck and killed Arroyo after a struggle in the cab of her ambulance that knocked her to the ground.
"[Arroyo] died doing what she loved," said her sister-in-law, Monica Salazar. "She died protecting her partner."
The partner suffered minor injuries in the incident.
The two were driving the ambulance Thursday night when someone told them that a man was hanging onto their rear bumper, authorities said at a news conference later that evening.
When they stopped the vehicle on the corner of Watson Avenue and White Plains Road to investigate, police said Gonzalez stole it and hit both EMTs.
On Friday, Arroyo's colleagues honored her with a ceremony at EMS Station 26 on Boston Road, where she worked. The community also erected a makeshift memorial outside.
"She was a great mentor; she was a great friend," said Anastasia Ramos, a colleague. "I love her. We all love her."
After the ceremony, Arroyo's station commander, FDNY Capt. Joseph Jefferson, remembered her as a dedicated member of the department. He said it was in her nature to choose to act on what she thought was right with a moment's notice, even in the face of danger.
"She gave her life not only in this moment yesterday, but in her everyday service," Jefferson said. "She was an exemplary employee."
When she first came to the station in 2003, Jefferson said he was working there as a paramedic at the time.
"Knowing she was out there gave us the peace and understanding that the right thing was going to be done, every single time," he said.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro added that the entire department would be there to support Arroyo's five sons and other family members as they mourn her loss.
"She served the city as a hero, and she died as a hero of our city," Nigro said. "Let us not forget that."