Det. Charles Lopresti doesn’t consider himself a hero, but what he did to help save the life of a suicidal Kew Gardens women is nothing less than extraordinary. And his good work has not gone unnoticed. The borough president plans to honor him next month.
On July 17, flight attendant Averie Kenery, who was staying at an apartment in Kew Gardens, tried to take her own life by overdosing on pills. Before losing consciousness she called her mother, Beth Walz, in Hawaii and told her “‘I took a bunch of pills. I want to kill myself. Kiss my kids. I’m sorry,’” Lopresti recalled.
“She stopped talking, but the phone line was still open,” he added. “They knew she either passed out or was dying.”
Walz was frantic and desperate to save her daughter, but since she did not know her exact address only that she was somewhere near the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Hillside Avenue — she couldn’t tell the 911 operator where to send help.
Walz then called the 103rd Precinct where she reached Lopresti who said he would provide assistance.
“I knew it wasn’t my precinct, but I didn’t feel there was time to call someone else,” he said. “I felt like I had to try and save this girl.”
The vigilant detective set out to the location he had been given. The only other clue Walz had provided was that her daughter was staying in a private house not an apartment building.
When Lopresti arrived with other detectives, he saw only two dwellings that fit the description. A woman dressed in a flight attendant uniform entered one of them, so they searched that one, a large Victorian home, first.
Together the officers scoured the house, going from room to room, breaking down doors and calling the young woman’s name. Walz, who still had her daughter on the line, could hear they were close. But Lopresti didn’t find Kenery right away. It was only upon a second inspection of one room that he noticed the petite woman with a sheet covering her, wedged between a bed and the wall.
“I was worried that I was too late,” Lopresti said. “I was worried because she wasn’t breathing.”
The 22-year veteran noticed empty pill bottles in the room, but no suicide note. When EMS arrived, Kenery had a pulse, but was not breathing. They administered first aid and took her to Jamaica Hospital Center where she remained in a coma for several days, but is recovering.
“I just did my job,” Lopresti said. “I’m glad I handled things the way I did. I hope she recovers and goes on with her life.”
Kenery, who is seen on her Facebook photo posed in front of a Delta Airlines banner, lists her home as Honolulu, Hawaii. She had 411 friends as of Monday afternoon, and includes the Rotary Club of Honolulu Pau Hana in her activities and interests.
Borough President Helen Marshall will honor Lopresti at the Sept. 20 Borough Cabinet meeting at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens