Community Surprise and Award Presentation for 15 Year Old Lifesaver Hailee Hurtado
On Monday, July 6th, Federal, State, County & Local Dignitaries celebrated the heroic actions of 15 year old Hailee Hurtado in front of friends, family and neighbors. Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Smithtown FD Chief Kevin Fitzpatrick, Christine Fitzgerald of the Smithtown Children’s Foundation, Congressman Lee Zeldin, and Legislator Leslie Kennedy presented Hailee Hurtado with awards and declarations for the heroic actions which saved the lives of her family from a devastating house fire.
“When we think of tragedy such as an act of god... war... pandemic… or a fire; The images of the brave few remain in our memories. Our firefighters… police... soldiers... medical professionals… The altruistic. Our Heroes. It’s a very rare quality that is often ignited inside a person... when every second matters. Today we are here to honor such a hero. But; that hero is not a firefighter. She’s not a soldier or a Doctor… well, not yet.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
The Smithtown Fire Department and Chief’s Office decided immediately after the early morning fire that the bravery exhibited by Hailee Hurtado was so extraordinary, that they sought to bestow her with a plaque for the act of heroism.
“When you look up the term traits of a hero on the internet there are literally hundreds of responses. Many of which apply to Hailee’s actions… Courage... Sacrifice... Hailee is the personification of a hero. Make no mistake, your actions on that night saved the lives of your family.” - Chief Kevin Fitzpatrick, Smithtown Fire Department
The Hurtado Family home was left uninhabitable along with the total destruction of all keepsakes, clothing, electronics, etc. In addition to assisting the family during these next few months, the Smithtown Children’s Foundation surprised Hailee with a new iPhone 11.
“We started the foundation in 2008 with a mission to help families in crisis and we’ve had a few fires… but this one was different. It’s hard not to get emotional when you think about what Hailee did. But what we found in house fires is that the first thing teenagers do before they run out of the house is that they grab their phone. But you’ve shown us that family was more important. So the Smithtown Children’s Foundation has a new iPhone 11 waiting for you!” - Christine Fitzgerald, Smithtown Children’s Foundation
Supervisor Wehrheim and his family surprised Hailee and her younger sister Madison with brand new Globe Cruiser skateboards to replace their prized possessions which were destroyed by the blaze, along with a gift card to Sweet Impact Skateboards to be outfitted with additional gear and accessories. When a Good Samaritan learned of Hailee’s story, St. James resident and Business Agent for Local Plumbers Union 200 Mario Mattera drove all across Long Island to surprise the entire family with new bicycles.
“From my entire family to yours… I hope you can enjoy a little bit of normalcy on these bikes together as a family. And when you ride them, I hope you think of the words Smithtown Strong, because that’s what you are Hailee.” - Mario Mattera, Business Agent, Local Plumbers Union 200
Additionally, neighbors have taken to Gofundme to help the family with expenses and temporary housing. To date, they have raised $13,500 to help the Hurtado family. Residents wishing to help the Hurtado’s can do so via: GoFundMe.com and searching “Help the Hurtado Family.”
VIDEO CLIPS OF THE CEREMONY: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lZsAwK-ja0xZKTMIwnH-JNJcETvhu0xe?usp=sharing
Video Credit: Smithtown Technical Services Unit (Public Safety)
Photos by Ron Pacchiana