Tears of Grief for Fallen EMT Yadira Arroyo

by David Greene
Thousands turned out to pay their respects for EMT Yadira Arroyo, who was struck and killed during a carjacking of her ambulance in Soundview. Photo by David Greene

Thousands turned out to pay their respects for EMT Yadira Arroyo, who was struck and killed during a carjacking of her ambulance in Soundview. Photo by David Greene

Thousands of mourners lined University Avenue to say goodbye to fallen Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Yadira Arroyo, who was struck and killed as she attempted to stop a carjacker from stealing her ambulance in the Soundview section on March 16.
A few dozen police officers from various motorcycle patrol units pay their respects for a fallen EMT. Photo by David Greene

A few dozen police officers from various motorcycle patrol units pay their respects for a fallen EMT. Photo by David Greene

A funeral mass for Arroyo, 44, a 14 year veteran of the FDNY, stationed at EMS Station # 26 on Boston Road, was held on Sunday, March 26, at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church. The intersection of University Avenue and West Fordham Road was shutdown for the 2-hour service.
The flag-draped coffin containing the body of EMT Yadira Arroyo is carried out of the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church of University Avenue. Photo by David Greene

The flag-draped coffin containing the body of EMT Yadira Arroyo is carried out of the St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church of University Avenue. Photo by David Greene

Mourners included Mayor Bill di Blasio, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro and Arroyo’s partner Monique Williams, who was also injured in the attempted carjacking at the corner of White Plains Road and Watson Avenue.

Efrain Gonzalez lll, a patient care technician at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, got to know Arroyo over the years as she delivered patients to the hospital.
Gonzalez said of Arroyo, “She knew what she was getting into and she met that challenge. So I watched her progress. You don’t know what your doing in the streets when you come out of the academy. You learn on the job and that’s when your mentors come in and your going to learn it by each and every call.”
Maria Perez traveled from a homeless shelter in Brooklyn to pay her respects to Arroyo, who as an EMT had picked Perez up nearly a dozen times, as Perez was suffering from a heart ailment and kept collapsing in the street.
Perez recalled, “She went to Brooklyn to pick me up and bring me to the hospital in the Bronx.”
With tears now streaming down her face, Perez added, “When I heard it was her, I said oh my God, I have to at least go to the mass, I have to see her before they bury her. She was a sweetheart.”
Arroyo’s 19 year-old son Kenneth Robles, who hopes to join the FDNY, said during his eulogy of his mother, “My mother and I tried to be there for each other and take care of each other over the years. And when she died, I thought well, I know she’ll be all right now.”
Paying his respects and keeping the crowd safe at the same time is "Kevin" a member of the NYPD Counter Terrorism K-9 Unit. Photo by David Greene

Paying his respects and keeping the crowd safe at the same time is “Kevin.” a member of the NYPD Counter Terrorism K-9 Unit. Photo by David Greene

Robles paused and continued, “I don’t know about me, who’s going to take care of me? Because I know God’s taking care of her. And then it occurred to me yesterday she didn’t need me anymore, but she left behind people… and she can’t take care of me anymore, but she will find people who can.”

The NYPD stationed members of its Counter Terrorism Unit atop the church’s rectory, watching the crowd from above and bomb-sniffing dogs kept the crowds safe on the ground.
Known gang member Jose Gonzalez, 25, has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges and remains held without bail.
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