Long Island Officer Hailed As Hero For Saving Family From House Fire

Sophia Hall
February 05, 2020 - 11:49 am

WEST BABYLON, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A 14-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department has been honored for saving a family from a house fire on Long Island last year.

Theresa Hoffman, her husband, Jason, and their two sons, ages 6 and 12, say Officer Avital Donnenfeld is a hero.

He was on patrol around 4 a.m. on Dec. 31 when he saw the family's West Babylon house on fire and without hesitation he opened the front door. 

The Hoffman's two sons ran out and then the officer spotted Theresa. Using his flashlight, he helped guide her to safety.

"I wasn't able to make it very far, the smoke condition was so heavy that I'm surprised that they were even there as long as they were," Donnenfeld said.

"He just kept talking to me in the most calm voice, 'Ma'am just come out of the house, just follow my light, I won't let you fall, I can see you, your kids are at the end of the driveway,'" Theresa said. 

On Wednesday, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Gerladine Hart commended Donnenfeld for his bravery and quick action during a reunion with the Hoffman family, who expressed their heartful thanks to the officer.

"We are the luckiest people alive," Theresa said. "Yes, we lost things that day and yes, we lost our beloved animal, but what we have gained from this community, I have more now than I had before."

Donnenfeld says he was just doing his job.

"You see smoke and you go to the smoke, there's never another thought," he said.