Heroes recognized for distinguished services at Erie County award show

The county showed its appreciation to four people Tuesday night sharing stories of service that often go untold.

First responders put their lives on the line each day to keep our communities safe. Now, thanks to a new program created by Erie County, those who go above and beyond are being recognized for extraordinary feats of heroism and service.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. You’re not human if you can’t hear or read about these stories about a complete and total stranger laying their life on the line for the life of another,” said Brenton Davis , Erie County executive.

The first of four to be recognized was an everyday civilian — Ryan Mozzacco. Back in March, he pulled someone from a home filling with smoke after hearing screaming while he was driving by.

“I heard a moan next to me, and I felt over to my right and it was his calf. I felt his calf muscle and his ankle and I just kept ripping him until I got to the steps, ripped him down the steps, and we both landed,” said Ryan Mozzacco, civilian recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

Although the victim died from his injuries, the sacrifice Mozzacco made to help a stranger in need speaks for itself.

Two firefighters were recognized for their heroism during a call in 2022 on 13th Street where they saved a young boy who was trapped in a burning bedroom.

“I was checking what felt like a child’s bed and I didn’t find anything. Then Scotty said he felt someone. Shortly after that, Scott was able to take the child out the window,” said Lt. Matt Vickey, City of Erie .

Vickey described the moment like Superman jumping out a window and unlike anything he’d ever seen.

“It’s moments like this when you have possibly someone stuck in a building and everybody converges on the scene from every different firehouse. Everybody’s ready to work,” said Scott Dentler, firefighter, City of Erie.

The final award was a post-memoriam award granted to Tom Gonzales for his 43 years serving the community with the crescent hose company in North East.

If you want to nominate someone for next year’s awards, head on over to the city’s website.

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