"I've seen people die. I know what it's like, and I thought that's what was going to happen that day," said Mark Bracciodieta, a father and firefighter.
Tough as nails Mahwah firefighter and EMT Marc Bracciodieta is reduced to tears when he recalls a day last June when he says he had to save a life most dear, his one year old daughter, Isabella.
"I thought she was going to die," Bracciodieta said.
Marc was on vacation in upstate New York.
When he turned his back for an instant, he says his 18-month-old fell off the couch.
"Isabella was face down in the fetal position not moving. I could tell something was wrong. Her body was lifeless," Bracciodieta said.
Marc says he performed CPR revived her and instead of waiting for the ambulance, he climbed in his car and raced to the hospital.
"Knowing the response times, I know that she was already unconscious and wasn't breathing, knowing that there was a hospital a five minute down the road," Bracciodieta said.
Marc demonstrated how he drove that day with his daughter in the front seat unrestrained and over his shoulder with him supporting her head and neck.
"Head stabilization, neck stabilization that's paramount. Monitor her breathing. Again, as you know, she was unconscious," Bracciodieta said.
He raced down the highway and he says sped up to 97 miles per hour to flag down a trooper going the other way.
"He came up to me started yelling at me that she can't be on your lap. I said that I'm a fireman. I was stabilizing her neck," Bracciodieta said.
The trooper eventually loaded Marc and his daughter into the car, and unrestrained, drove them to the hospital.
After bringing Isabella into the ER, Marc says the trooper charged him with two seat belt infractions and a speeding ticket and admits an argument ensued and he swore at the trooper.
That's when Marc says the trooper arrested him for endangering the welfare of a child.
"He spins me around and throws the cuffs on me. (In the emergency room?) Right in the emergency room, in front of my daughter, in front of my wife, in front of all these strangers. (And how did that make you feel?) Helpless, helpless I should be the one taking care of her and I'm going to jail," Bracciodieta said.
Just a few months later, Isabella has completely recovered and is feeling no effects from her fall.
As for Marc, a local court dismissed the arrest charges after he plead guilty to a traffic infraction.
But now he's opened a case with internal affairs, alleging the trooper acted inappropriately.
The New York State Police couldn't comment because it's an on-going proceeding.
Still for Marc, emotional scars remain.
"I have a lot of friends who are police officers. A lot of family members who are police officers. He's not a police officer. No compassion," Bracciodieta said.
The New York State Police Internal Affairs investigation will be concluded this month.
When the report is issued, Marc will learn if the trooper will be disciplined or not.
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