New York doctor, patient reunite after heart attack during Ida flooding


NEW YORK (WPIX) — Trapped in floodwaters during Ida, one Staten Island doctor was trying to get to a patient who was suffering a heart attack, but had to be rescued by another doctor.

On Tuesday, the doctor and patient reunited to talk about the challenging and life-threatening experience.

Angel Rosa, a 55-year-old retired NYPD sergeant, said he initially thought he was having a panic attack, like he has in the past, but something felt different.

“The next thing you know, I’m here [in the hospital] and the doctor’s stuck in a flood,” he said.

He’s able to chuckle about it now, but in the moment while suffering the heart attack, it was no laughing matter.

Dr. Frank Tamburrino, director of cardiac intervention at Staten Island University Hospital, said he never experienced a downpour like that.

“The nose of my car went underwater and I hit the gas … and my car died,” Tamburrino said.

So his colleague, Dr. Wassim Hoyek, came to his rescue in a Range Rover. The two navigated the flooded streets of Staten Island while passing floating cars.

Meanwhile, Angel Rosa waited at the hospital.

“I’m laying on the bed there waiting for the doctor [and there were] two of the doctors standing there, a couple of nurses, and I’m like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s get this show on the road.’” he said.

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His wife, Minerva Rosa, said it was the worst night of her life.

“When they told me the doctor wasn’t there yet, I kind of flipped,” she said. “I knew what was going on outside. He didn’t.”

Tamburrino said he remembers running into the building soaking wet.

“I was wet all the way up to my waist and as I came out of the elevator I saw your wife sitting there and the first thing she said to me — she goes, ‘Doctor, are you okay?’ I said I’m fine! I’m going to take care of your husband!’” Tamburrino laughed.

The doctor said it usually takes an hour for him to begin treatment for a heart attack, but on that night it took almost an hour and a half.

With a second chance at life, Angel Rosa is spending more time with family and cherishing every moment he gets with his 5-year-old granddaughter, Yael.

“I feel great,” he said. “I’m grateful for life, grateful for my family, grateful for you, doc, and all the great doctors in this hospital.”

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