Nearly a month after Officer Rosa Rodriguez was seriously injured in a fire in a Coney Island high rise, she's home from the hospital. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
It was a hero's sendoff Monday at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
With hundreds of NYPD officers, the mayor and the police commissioner at her side, Officer Rosa Rodriguez left the hospital after six weeks of recovering from injuries she suffered while trying to save others in a fire last month.
"Today is a very happy and exciting day for the Rodriguez family as well as her police family," said Carlos Valdez, Rodriguez's Commanding Officer.
Rodriguez had been in the hospital since April 6 when she and her partner, officer Dennis Guerra, were overcome with smoke while responding to a fire inside a building in Coney Island.
Guerra died from his injuries. Sixteen-year-old Marcell Dockery has been charged with second degree murder and arson for that fire.
"It's a huge morale boost for her to walk out and communicate well because we were very worried about her," Valdez said.
Rodriguez spent a month on a breathing machine. Doctors say she had a 50 percent chance of dying. Rodriguez can walk and talk, and she could mouth the words "thank you" to her NYPD brothers and sisters when she was released. Her lungs still don't function properly, and she faces months of recovery time.
"Her recovery is actually a fairly long process of regaining strength and stamina, and the courage to meet each day confident that you're going to get through it," said Dr. Palmer Bessey of NYP Cornell Burn Center.
The Guerra family met with Rodriguez and her family before she left the hospital in a bittersweet show of support.
"As usual when officers like this leave, we will always be there for them to support them and that includes both the Rodriguez and the Guerra family," said Valdez.
Rodriguez says she does want to go back to work, but that it could be awhile. Doctors say she physically will be able to but, she will also have to regain her confidence.