The MTA honored four of its bridge and tunnel officers and a sergeant who took swift action to protect Indie, a rescue dog who bolted from Manhattan’s Upper West Side and escaped through the Queens Midtown Tunnel on the evening of June 8. Indie was captured on surveillance cameras running against oncoming traffic in the tunnel during rush hour.
Informed that the puppy was in danger in the tunnel’s Manhattan-bound tube, Sgt. Orlando Caholo ordered oncoming traffic to be halted briefly to prevent the possibility of an accident, which can occur when motorists swerve or stop suddenly to avoid hitting an animal running freely in the tunnel.
“Officer Minutello was receiving calls from 911 saying there was a dog in the tunnel. A few officers went into the tunnel, Michael Winn and Alexander Figueroa, they went into the tunnel to confirm there was a dog in there, and it was,” Sgt. Caholo said. “They stopped traffic. They put their patrol cars to stop any incoming traffic. They tried their best to catch her. She got away from them. She was pretty fast. And once they confirmed it, I went into the tunnel, and I saw her pass my vehicle.”
Following Caholo’s orders, Officer Latoria Bosley was positioned at the Queens entrance to the tunnel while Winn and Figueroa searched for Indie. The dog eventually emerged on the Queens side in Long Island City, and traffic resumed.
But the officers weren’t able to catch Indie and watched as she raced toward LIC. Officer Heather Minutello went on social media to see if anyone reported a dog missing that looked like Indie and she saw owner Heather Angus’ post. Minutello got in touch with Angus via social media to let her know that Indie was lost somewhere in Queens, and Angus posted “lost dog” flyers around the area.
On June 14, Jairo Naranjo of Ridgewood, who works at a Long Island City warehouse, contacted Angus after spotting one of her flyers in a diner. Indie had spent a week living among feral cats in the warehouse. Naranjo’s tip led to a reunification later that day.
On Tuesday, June 22, Angus and Indie returned to the mouth of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, where the MTA presented the officers with certificates of commendation for their actions.
“Thank you for having Indie and I here today to thank these amazing officers,” said Angus, who works at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she tended to the sickest patients during the COVID-19 pandemic as a nurse anesthetist. “I’m forever grateful for your speedy action to shut down the tunnel and for calling with that life-saving tip. I thought we may be here to pay Indie’s toll because she was not wearing an E-ZPass that day.”
Indie wasn’t wearing an E-ZPass at the June 22 ceremony, but she was sporting a new tracking collar provided by Fi that would allow Angus to track Indie from her phone if Indie ever runs away again.
“When we saw Indie’s story, we reached out to Heather right away to send her a Fi collar,” Fi Founder and CEO Jonathan Bensamoun said. “Should another escape occur, Heather will now be notified right away and see Indie’s location as a dot on a map for easy recovery. Every dog parent deserves to be empowered to keep their best friend safe through technology. Our ultimate goal is to prevent this heartache from ever happening to millions of dog owners. There’s over 100 million dogs in the U.S., and less than 1 million smart collars have been sold. People simply don’t know that ‘Find My Friends’ for your dog already exists.”
For more information on the tracking device, visit their website here.
Meanwhile, MTA Bridges and Tunnels Vice President and Chief of Operations Richard Hildebrand praised the officers for their quick thinking that protected India and motorists in the tube.
“Every day our officers work to protect New Yorkers, even the four-legged ones,” Hildebrand said. “I am proud of the work these four officers did to keep Indie safe while making sure drivers could get where they needed to go.”