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Hometown Hero: Pearl River Man Gets Key To County For Bravery In NYC Attack

William V. "Billy" Harris IV, right, displays the Key to the County after it was presented to him by County Executive Ed Day, left.
William V. "Billy" Harris IV, right, displays the Key to the County after it was presented to him by County Executive Ed Day, left. Photo Credit: Contributed

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- Rockland County Executive Ed Day awarded the Key to the County to a Pearl River man who helped apprehend a terrorist in the New York City truck attack on Halloween.

William V. "Billy" Harris IV  was the third Rockland County resident to receive the award, which was presented at the Central Nyack Fire House, where Harris is a volunteer firefighter.

"Today we are presenting the Key to a resident who has demonstrated immense bravery during a crisis," Day said. "Billy Harris did that on Oct. 31 when once again our way of life was attacked by someone who wanted to inflict terror on innocent people."

Harris was also awarded the Medal of Valor by Central Nyack Fire Chief Robert Moger, who praised his actions and bravery. Former Fire Chief Frank Jewett presented an award on behalf of the Rockland County Fire Instructor's Association and Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann also presented a certificate of merit.

Numerous Rockland officials attended the ceremony to honor Harris, including Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco III and Rockland County Director of Fire and Emergency Services Gordon Wren Jr.,

Harris was working as a truck driver in Lower Manhattan on Oct. 31 when he heard what sounded like a loud collision. He saw a pickup truck mowing people down on a bike path.

He went to investigate and saw the man get out of his truck with what looked like two weapons.

Harris gave chase to the suspected terrorist and helped kick two guns away from him as police got there and arrested the man who killed eight people.

Harris served as a Marine and has long been a volunteer firefighter.

He was at Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 attacks with his late father, Bill Harris,

Bill Harris paid a heavy price for his work – he developed mercury poisoning, likely from the toxic material at the World Trade Center.

Before Bill Harris died, he took metal beams from the wreckage of the World Trade Center and gave them to many communities to make 9/11 memorials. One of those beams is at the Rockland County Sept. 11 Memorial at Haverstraw Bay County Park with a plaque dedicated to Bill Harris.

"The Harris family has once again demonstrated bravery, patriotism and willingness to help," Day said. "Billy Harris could have run in the other direction on Oct. 31 in Lower Manhattan. He didn't. In recognition of his bravery and heroism helping those in danger, we are today presenting the Key to the County to William V. Harris the Fourth."

The first Key to the County recipient was Grace Vanderwaal, the Suffern teen who won the America's Got Talent contest. The second was presented to Millicent "Ivey" Mackle of Pomona, who took a stand against hate in her community.

A video of the presentation to Harris can be viewed here.

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