In the bitterly cold, early morning hours of Jan. 31, a house fire was reported in Levittown. Matt Pinelli, a police officer of Levittown’s 8th Precinct, was in the area of the reported fire and was one of the first responders. Outside the burning house was an elderly man who informed Officer Pinelli of another woman still inside. Without hesitation, Pinelli entered the home on his hands and knees to avoid the accumulating smoke. After crawling approximately 15 or 20 feet, Pinelli found the woman, dragged her to where he could stand, picked her up, and carried her outside to safety. She would later arrive at the hospital unresponsive, but her condition stabilized. Pinelli had saved her life.
In an act of gratitude and appreciation, TD Bank and the New York Islanders reached out to Pinelli’s precinct to honor him at an upcoming game. Pinelli had been chosen as a TD Bank Hometown Hero, and was invited to accept his award at the Feb. 17 game against the Boston Bruins.
“(My lieutenant) said the Islanders had reached out about the program they do with TD Bank, and they wanted to honor me for what happened that night,” said Pinelli. “He asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I’m a pretty big Islanders fan.”
The TD Bank Hometown Hero is a joint initiative between the New York Islanders and “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” to honor locals who go above and beyond to display exemplary courage.
TD Bank will honor six Hometown Heroes over the course of the 2011-12 season. Each honoree receives tickets for their immediate family and friends, in addition to being recognized in the Coliseum during an Islanders game.
“As far as the whole presentation goes, it was such a blur,” said Pinelli. “I don’t remember hearing anything or anybody clapping. It was just so surreal that it was actually going on.”
Pinelli was presented with an award by TD Bank, and was featured on the Nassau Coliseum video board, with a description of his heroic acts on Jan. 31. He was given a standing ovation by the over 12,000 fans in attendance.
“It was amazing,” said Pinelli. “One of the best parts about the whole thing was that I got to include my family in it. The Islanders were generous enough to give me tickets for my mother, my father, my brother and his fiancée, my fiancée, and my grandmother.”
The award is one that Pinelli is particularly proud of, displaying it prominently in his home.
“It’s sitting in my entertainment center, next to my TV,” said Pinelli. “It’s the first award I got with the police department, so it means a lot to me. It’s definitely well taken care of.”
The chance to spend the night with his family meant even more to Pinelli. His grandfather had passed away a week before Pinelli was honored.
“My thanks to TD Bank and the New York Islanders for the extreme generosity they showed for making that night something really special,” said Pinelli. “It was a nice positive note to lift everyone’s spirits up.”