By Sophia Chang
LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — If the Long Island Expressway had been open early Friday morning, Suffolk County police Officer Douglas Bose would have never driven by the Dix Hills house as a fire raged.
"I was in the right place at the right time," Bose said, standing outside the burned remnants of the Sandra Lane house where he helped Shaniqua Tompkins -- ex-girlfriend of rapper 50 cent -- their son, and four other people escape the early morning blaze a fire official deemed suspicious.
A 22-year veteran of the police force and a Crime Scene Section officer, Bose, 50, was driving north on Deer Park Avenue after picking up his children from their high school prom in West Islip around 4 a.m. Friday and dropping them off at a friend's house.
Because the expressway was closed for roadwork, he chose an alternate route on Deer Park Avenue on his way home to Selden -- a route that took him by Sandra Lane just as the fire was breaking out around 5 a.m.
"I thought I saw smoke and flames," Bose said, so he made a U-turn and drove to the house on a hill on the corner of Sandra Lane and Deer Park Avenue.
Bose called 911 and told the dispatcher he would try to see if the house was occupied.
"I walked around the back of the house and saw six people climbing out" of a second-story window onto a small eave, about 15 feet above the backyard, he said.
He then helped Tompkins, her 11-year-old son Marquise, another woman, and two other children and a teenager navigate their way to the ground, and he grabbed the children's ankles as they dangled down from the roof.
"I helped break their fall," Bose said.
"One of the girls, I didn't see what she had in her arms until later. She had a guinea pig in her arms," Bose said.
"They were scared," Bose said of the rescued people. "They thanked me."
He added that the girl with the guinea pig high-fived him.
Bose said he didn't know that Tompkins and Marquise were connected to rapper 50 Cent until hours after the rescue. Tompkins and 50 Cent are embroiled in a legal dispute over the house.
Tompkins did not comment Friday on Bose's assistance, but an arson investigator said she was thankful that her family and friends were safe.
"The family is very grateful," Suffolk County Arson Squad Commanding Officer Det. Lt. Jim Rooney said, "that the officer was in the area."
Copyright 2008 Newsday