Local Heroes: They Saw, They Stopped, They Helped

GRAVESEND – Yesterday afternoon neighbors across the borough were sharing messages hoping to help identify a 4-year-old girl that was found wandering on her own on Shore Parkway.

The girl, who is only identified as Nicole, was discovered on Shore Parkway at about noon yesterday by two Department of Environmental Protection workers who were using a nearby hydrant to fill their truck to flush storm drains and sewers.

DEP workers Matthew Alongi and Tori Boria thankfully found the 4-year-old girl before she
suffered any harm on busy Shore Parkway. (Photo by Todd Maisel/Bklyner)

The two workers are Matthew Alongi, 35, father of two children from Bath Beach on the job for 13 years and his partner Tori Boria, 25, of Fresh Meadows Queens, on the job for a year.

Both said the girl was in “the middle of Shore Parkway.

Alongi said he and his partner were filling up the truck when they spotted the girl. “As a parent, my instinct is to ensure safety of an unattended child and there she was, the girl was right in the middle of the street,” Alongi said.

“We brought her out of the street and then looked around see if someone in distress – we wanted to make sure she wasn’t in danger, we were right next to playground, didn’t see nobody in distress so – called police,” Boria added.

Boria then tried to keep the girl calm and offered her a game on her cell phone as they called the 60th Precinct police. Alongi said he didn’t want to think of what might’ve happened had they not spotted the girl.

“She could’ve ended up into some else’s hands or worse, it’s a busy road, a car could have run her over – let’s let that be,” he said as he reflected on his own children, ages 8 and 10.

Photo: Todd Maisel/Bklyner

Police conducted an all-day search for the parents, several officers canvassing Drier Offerman Park with photos of the girl.

It wasn’t until later in the evening that the parents showed up at the precinct where the girl after police notified the school after tracing the bus back to the school by reviewing videos. The young girl was sleeping when they arrived, and they had their joyous reunion.

Police arrested a school bus driver and the matron, who allegedly left the 4-year old girl on their bus after dropping others off for day-care, police officials said.

The two were identified as Anatoliy Elkin, 76, the driver of the bus and the matron, Galina Zabarnaya, 63, of Shore Parkway. Both are being charged with failure to exercise control of a minor, police said.

Police say the little girl was supposed to go to daycare, while her parents were working, but instead was left on the bus, with the door open. The girl then walked off the unventilated bus and began walking on Shore Parkway near 27th Avenue, adjacent to Drier Offerman Park, where she was found wandering with a stuffed animal under her arm.

At this time, the bus company has not been identified and it was unclear as to where the bus was parked when the girl exited to the street by herself.

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Todd Maisel

Todd Maisel

Todd Maisel is an award-winning photographer with more than 35-years, specializing in breaking news. He currently serves as vice president of the New York Press Photographers. He was honored by the National Press Photographers Association and the Uniform Firefighters Association for saving the life of a firefighter he found in debris after the collapse of the World Trade Center, assisting in the rescue of an injured photographer, and for extensive coverage of the attack. Maisel is a graduate of NYU School of Journalism.

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