Police, medics save former NYPD officer after he collapsed at Long Island restaurant

FRANKLIN SQUARE, N.Y. — A Long Island man was ordering his favorite Italian food when he lost consciousness in a local restaurant. He had no pulse when Nassau County police raced to his rescue.

CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan has more on some special first responders and the grateful grandfather whose life was saved.

John Balestrieri and his wife, Barbara, were in their favorite Franklin Square restaurant.

“I ordered lasagna and a side order of sausage,” John Balestrieri said.

Suddenly, he slumped over in his chair.

“We never got to eat. He collapsed after he ordered his food,” Barbara Balestrieri said.

Two patrons — a nurse and local firefighter — began CPR as Nassau police and medics raced to the restaurant.

“When I heard ‘no pulse,’ I thought I lost my husband,” Barbara Balestrieri said.

First to arrive were Officers Salvatore Milone and Robert Polzer.

“He was on the floor. He wasn’t breathing,” Polzer said.

“At the scene, you could tell everybody was very emotional,” Milone added.

Amid the chaos, officers grabbed their AED and shocked John Balestrieri with the defibrillator.

New York has some of the strictest AED requirements in the nation. All public buildings, restaurants included, with 75 or more people — must have a defibrillator.

“I ran out of the restaurant. I got to the point where I couldn’t cope with it. I was so overwhelmed,” Barbara Balestrieri said.

Medics Ryan Murphy and Jason Katz kept the resuscitation going on the way to NYU Langone Winthrop. Five times John Balestrieri had to be brought back.

“The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital six days later in intensive care,” John Balestrieri said.

“I didn’t realize until we got to the hospital who he was,” Murphy said of his neighbor and friend. “I went to high school with his daughter.”

“And he’s a retired cop?” McLogan said.

“Incredible. We just found that out,” Katz said.

John Balestrieri is a father, grandfather, and former NYPD officer who now teaches at John Jay. Those who saved his life were honored during a top cop ceremony.

“That’s the only reason I’m still standing here today,” he said. “Thank you. God bless them. I’d like to thank God for everything because he put the right people at the right place at the right time to save my life.”

The heroes say it was their privilege and honor.

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