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Lewisboro Woman Honored For Heroism During Deadly Train Crash

Riley DeJong is being honored as the EMS Provider of the Year by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York for her role in the rescue of victims of an horrific train crash in Valhalla.
Riley DeJong is being honored as the EMS Provider of the Year by the Firemen's Association of the State of New York for her role in the rescue of victims of an horrific train crash in Valhalla. Photo Credit: Firemen's Association of the State of New York

LEWISBORO, N.Y. -- A Lewisboro woman who braved smoke and flames to save victims of a deadly train crash has been honored by a firefighters association.

Riley DeJong, an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, was just 19 when the Metro-North train she was on struck an SUV at a grade crossing in Valhalla last year.

Fifteen people were injured and six killed, including the SUV's driver, Ellen Brody, a 49-year-old mom of three from Edgemont.

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York has named DeJong its EMS Provider of the Year for 2016.

According to the association, the teen was returning from classes at Hunter College in Manhattan on that fateful February day.

She had just received her EMT-B certification as a member of the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

The impact ripped loose more than 450 feet of third rail and sent pieces of the SUV through the front of the train.

Miraculously unhurt herself, DeJong came to the aid of the wounded even as the train car filled with smoke, flames and fumes from the burning SUV, the association said.

Passengers from the other cars could not reach the front car because the doors were jammed.

One man’s legs had been partially amputated.

DeJong, aided by another passenger, used waist belts to make tourniquets to stop the bleeding.

Demonstrating great “calm” and “courage,” she continued to provide first aid to other injured passengers until emergency crews arrived at the scene, the association said.

She also rode in an ambulance and treated two others patients while en route to the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.

DeJong, whose bravery has been recognized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others, was nominated for the association’s award by Lt. James C. Reilly, of the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Last year, she received the New York State Senate Liberty Medal, presented by state Sen. Terrence Murphy at his "Women of Distinction" event in Chappaqua.

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