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Queens Chronicle

Lindenwood cop hurt in fatal fire comes home

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Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014 5:25 pm | Updated: 12:01 pm, Thu May 22, 2014.

The Lindenwood police officer who was seriously injured in a Brooklyn fire allegedly started intentionally by a bored teen is out of the hospital and back home with her family.

Police Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, was released Monday afternoon from Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan where she had been recovering from injuries resulting from a fire in a Coney Island high rise on April 6.

Rodriguez’ partner, Police Officer Dennis Guerra, 38, of Rockaway died from his injuries three days after the fire. Rodriguez suffered from smoke inhalation and a burned esophagus. She was in a coma for four days and was on a ventilator for a month in order to repair the damaged lining of her lungs.

Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton were present when she was released on Monday. 

An hour later, Rodriguez, with a police escort, pulled up in front of her 153rd Avenue home in Lindenwood. Neighbors peeked out of their front doors to see what was going on.

Family and friends carried flowers and balloons into the home as Rodriguez, who was still breathing with the help of a nasal cannula, emerged from the black van that drove her from the hospital. Dressed in a police jacket, she walked the steps into her home with her two daughters, age 9 and 11, by her side. 

Neither Rodriguez nor her family offered comments outside her home, but a police officer who was asked to comment for the family said Rodriguez was doing OK, but has a long recovery ahead of her.

“She’s doing very well,” he said. “Right now, she and her family are happy to have her home. They’re talking about what they’re going to cook for dinner.”

Rodriguez and Guerra had responded to the report of a fire at 2007 Surf Avenue in Coney Island. The pair took an elevator to the 13th floor, where the fire was reported, but when the doors opened, they were overcome by smoke.

Guerra died from his injuries on April 9. His funeral was held April 14 in Rockaway Beach where he lived with his family. Rodriguez’s daughters attended Guerra’s wake in Ozone Park while their mother recovered in the hospital. 

A police source said Guerra’s widow met with Rodriguez at the hospital before the officer’s release Monday.

“They spent some time together alone talking,” the source said. 

Another source said Rodriguez wore a button with her partner’s face on it as she traveled home.

“Police Officer Rosa Rodriguez is truly representative of what drives New York City police officers,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Marcell Dockery, 16, is accused of starting the flames by setting fire to a mattress in the building’s hallway. He faces charges that include second-degree murder, assault and arson. 

Police say Dockery admitted to starting the fire because he was bored, but the suspect’s lawyer said the confession was coerced. 

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