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Cops: Sandy utility workers catch mugger who attacked woman

(L-R) Mississippi lineman Robbie Jarman of Echo Powerline,

(L-R) Mississippi lineman Robbie Jarman of Echo Powerline, Louisiana diesel mechanic Lee Snoddy of Snoddy's Onsite and Louisiana lineman Brent Bernard of Echo Powerline, helped catch a mugger who tried to steal a purse from an 80-year-old woman in New Hyde Park. (Nov. 13, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Southern contractors who came to the rescue of Sandy victims also saved an 80-year-old woman robbed of her purse in New Hyde Park Tuesday, authorities said.

The woman and her husband, 82, were at the bus stop on Jericho Turnpike and Ingram Lane when attacked about 9 a.m., police said.

"The guy comes up behind her and just tries to grab the pocketbook and run away," said Det. Lt. Ray Cote, head of the Third Precinct detectives.

The woman and her attacker struggled, but the suspect grabbed it, Cote said. The husband told police, "I tried to hit him with the umbrella."

Police did not release the names of the "hero" utility workers, but National Grid identified the men.

Diesel mechanic Lee Snoddy, 38, said he stopped for a red light when he saw the husband being punched.

 “It was like, ‘Really?’ ” recounted Snoddy, of Turkey Creek, La. “When he hit the old man, I just ran.”

Putting his truck in neutral, Snoddy chased him. "When I jumped him from behind, he went to the ground and threw his hands out to catch himself," the owner of Snoddy Onsite said.

More concerned about the couple, Snoddy left the man and returned the purse to the woman, who thanked him.

His friends from the Echo Powerline utility company had been several cars behind when they saw Snoddy run.

Foreman Brent Bernard, 45, said he jumped out of the front passenger seat before the truck had even stopped. “I didn’t know at first what he was running after, but I looked ahead of him and I saw a guy in a red hoodie and ...  he had a woman’s purse in his hand. ... I just opened the door and jumped out because I didn’t want Lee just by himself with this guy.”

As Snoddy retrieved the purse, the robber took off, so Bernard and Mississippi lineman Robbie Jarman pursued him for two blocks before catching him.

“I grabbed him by the shirt, and before he started swinging, I just tripped him to the ground,” Bernard said. “I got behind him and put in in a choke hold."

Officers arrested Brian P. Maher, 29, who has no known address. He will be arraigned Wednesday on two counts of second-degree robbery.

The victim’s husband was treated and released from a hospital, police said.

Bernard and Snoddy said their colleagues joked they’ll have to get them Batman masks and Superman shirts.

The workers have been here since Oct. 31, two days after Sandy’s arrival here.

Bernard said he told the police, "Not only do we get the power on, we do some crime fighting for you."

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