By Anthony M. Destefano
NEW YORK — An NYPD officer critically injured in a Brooklyn arson last month was released from the hospital Monday amid cheers from her fellow officers and bagpipe music.
Wheeled to a black Chevrolet Impala by hospital personnel, Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, a mother of four, left New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell at about 12:38 p.m., with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton among those celebrating her recovery.
Rodriguez was overcome by toxic smoke in the elevator of a Coney Island housing project when she and another officer responded to the mattress fire on April 6.
Accused arsonist Marcell Dockery, 16, has pleaded not guilty to felony murder and arson charges.
Dennis Guerra, 38, Rodriguez's partner, who also inhaled the deadly fumes, died three days after the fire.
Two of her daughters, wearing blue police caps, walked in front of Rodriguez's wheelchair as it was rolled to the sedan. Balloons were attached to the wheelchair, as the officer held a bouquet of roses and acknowledged the cheers and bagpipe music with smiles.
She entered the Impala on her own.
Dr. Palmer Bessey, associate director of the hospital's burn center, said at first he was not sure if Rodriguez was going to make it.
Gradually, over time, she responded positively to a breathing machine so enough of her lung function healed and she recovered, he said.
Patrick J. Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, praised Rodriguez in a prepared statement as a "representative of what drives New York City police officers."
"She is strong, determined and confident. She is totally dedicated to her family and her city and that is what drives her return to health," Lynch said.
"We are gratified that she has recovered enough to return to the family she loves and we pray that she will continue to heal and one day be able to return to patrol."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2014 Newsday