GREENWICH, Conn., -- Greenwich Police Department Officer Francesco "Frank" Di Pietro had a sneaking suspicion he would receive an award Thursday, but his partner in a dramatic Long Island Sound rescue last year had no clue.
"I was looking to pick up AV equipment for another function because we had the only truck available," joked Officer Shawn Fox, 53, during a break in the 68th Annual Dr. John A. Clarke Police Award ceremony Thursday.
The ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich. The award is handed out by the Greenwich Lions Club to Greenwich Police officers for outstanding performance.
The award for Di Pietro and Fox honored their July rescue of an out-of-control cigarette boat that had ejected its two passengers and was winding its way off Greenwich waters.
Di Pietro said he had an "inkling" he might receive the award due to the high drama of the rescue.
Two people had been thrown from the 30-foot boat, which was motoring without anyone at the helm through the Sound. The water was crowded with boaters, including many on their way to watch the Friday evening fireworks at the Rye Playland.
Di Pietro, 33, a Greenwich native and 11-year police officer, said all attempts to get the boat under control failed. A decision was made for Di Pietro and Fox to bring their police boat alongside the cigarette boat, and for Di Pietro to jump on and shut it down. He said he was concerned for his safety.
"Absolutely, I am not going to lie, but this is the oath that he and I both took," Di Pietro said. "There was no choice, somebody was going to be hurt."
The two men are part of the department's marine unit, and the award helps to highlight the work the unit has done over the last decade, Fox said.
"This is a long time coming," Fox said. "We have been working very hard to be a good unit."
Chief James Heavey said the two men earned the honor.
"This particular year was actually an easy decision," he said. "They used their training, experience, all their tools to really prevent a tragedy."