Smoke couldn't keep Manchester neighbors from becoming heroes
All three converged at a burning house at 316 Merrimack St. on a sunny Saturday morning last May. They broke in to check on two older residents who lived there.
She found resident Bill Kelly, a Ward 4 alderman from 1970 to 1980, on the second floor and led him to safety.
Meanwhile, Sapienza, 49, of Manchester checked a back stairway and the first floor before emerging on the front porch, then went back inside when someone thought a second person might still be inside.
“Panicking,” Palmer recalled. “They weren’t coming down.”
“You can’t get rid of me that easy,” Martin said.
Paramedics checked out Sapienza, telling him he had a high heart rate. But he kept working another six hours or so. Merrimack Street wasn’t even on his route.
Everyone was too modest to accept the “hero” label.
“I think it would have been something anyone would have done,” said Martin, 38.
By chance, Sapienza met Kelly on Easter Sunday. The rescuee thanked a rescuer.
A third neighbor, Ryan Masterson, also will be honored for entering the burning building on May 4, 2013.
The Union Leader Hero Awards honor New Hampshire residents who have risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person.
Recipients of the 2014 Union Leader Hero Awards will be honored at a ceremony at 3 p.m. May 13 at the State House in Concord. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested.