January 13, 2006
By LISA L. COLANGELO DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Little Isabelle Avins was all the reward - and award - anyone needed at yesterday's "Finest of the Finest" ceremony.
The cherubic toddler, all bright eyes and red curls, squealed and smiled as the two police officers who helped save her life were honored.
"It's God's gift," said Police Officer Victor Matos. "She's great. You look at that and it motivates you."
Last September, little Isabelle was stabbed by a madman as her nanny pushed her stroller in Washington Heights.
The brave nanny, Parbattie Ramroop, tried to rush the child to the hospital. On her way she saw Matos and his partner, Police Officer Maria Franco, who ran through traffic to get the tot to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.
"They stayed by my side the entire night of the incident and would not leave it no matter how late the hour," said Sarah Lesser-Avins, Isabelle's grateful mom. "Their actions and quick thinking saved this baby's life."
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association handed out awards to more than 40 police officers yesterday during a ceremony at the Water Club.
"The heroism we're talking about here is real," PBA President Patrick Lynch said of the award-winners, who are selected by their fellow officers.
Lesser-Avins said she wanted to make sure the other hero of the day, Ramroop, was remembered. The loyal nanny fussed over little Isabelle throughout yesterday's ceremony.
"She also helped us to catch this guy," Franco added. "She actually was the one that gave me the description."
The family of Police Officer and U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. James McNaughton was given a special award in his memory. McNaughton was killed during his tour of duty in Iraq.
The honor was especially meaningful for his father, William McNaughton, a retired police officer, and his stepmother, Michele, who is still on the force.
"Being a cop, coming from a cop family - what more could you ask for?" said a beaming William McNaughton. "What better recognition than from your own? No one knows us better than us."