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Utility workers save the day

Con Edison workers Michael Santeramo (l.) and John McDonnell retell the story of how they rushed to the aid of a woman who was being robbed in Bayside along with two of their co-workers. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

Four Con Edison hard hats proved themselves to be heroes last week when they rescued a woman who was being attacked in Bayside.

The day started routinely for foreman John Kane and his crew of mechanics John McDowell and Michael Santeramo and backhoe operator Anthony Farmighetti.

The four men, who have more than 40 years of experience with the company among them, arrived to repair a gas leak Jan. 25 at the corner of 201st Street and 42nd Avenue around 12:30 p.m., and worked throughout the day, tearing up the street and repairing the leak.

It was at about 8 p.m., with the bright lights of their equipment lighting up their worksite, that they heard a woman’s scream coming from about 20 feet away.

“At the time we were in-between tasks. The street was closed off and the area was very well lit,” said McDowell, a Rockaway Beach resident.

“We heard a scream and me and Anthony were the first ones to run toward it, with Mike and John right behind us,” said Santeramo, who lives on Long Island.

The men said that when they arrived, they saw a woman in her 20s with grocery bags thrown about who had just been hit in her lip and a black man about 6 feet tall wearing a blue bandana around his face, running away.

They said they chased him for about 60 feet.

“We all chased him, and when we got close I guess he knew he was going to get caught,” said McDowell.

The suspect then turned around, pointed a gun at the crew and threatened to shoot them before running off.

“We got back and called the police. A couple of guys kept their flashlights in the alley while we waited till the cops came a couple minutes later,” Santeramo said.

The victim, who spoke poor English, was hysterical until her mother arrived. Once the police had cleared the scene, the men went back to their work repairing the gas leak.

On Monday, McDowell and Santeramo were at the Con Ed service center in College Point and spoke modestly about their actions.

“You didn’t really think, the adrenaline just kicked in,” McDowell said.

“It’s been a different week and a half for us,” Santeramo said about the reaction he had received from co-workers. “We did the right thing and that’s all that matters.”

Bobby Sperrazza said he was not surprised his co-workers acted the way they did.

“They’re good guys and they did a great thing,” he said, then jokingly pointed out the garage door McDowell and Santeramo were standing in.

“They’re getting big heads,” he said. “That’s the door they’re going to have to come in and out of.”

Con Edison spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said he was working with Borough President Helen Marshall’s office to have the men’s acts recognized.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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