(NEW YORK) — A man who was despondent that he could no longer provide for his family climbed onto the ledge of New York City’s longest bridge on Monday and was ready to leap when he was grabbed by three cops, police said.
As the man was perched on a ledge of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge shortly after 10 a.m., he poured out his heart to officers on the how he felt like a failure because he had lost his job and could no longer support his 2-year-old son, the cops who made the daring rescue told ABC News Tuesday.
“We kept trying to tell him, ‘Listen, come back with us, come back for your son. This is no way to end your life. This is not a solution to any problems you have,'” said Det. Paul Fazio, one of the emergency service unit officers who responded.
The man told them that he was 39 years old and had a history of mental illness, and that he wasn’t afraid of dying, according to the officers.
They thought they were on the verge of talking him down, but after about an hour and a half, he started mumbling — he seemed to be praying — and told them he had made peace with God.
He looked over the edge, the cops said, and looked like he was about to jump.
The officers sprang into action: Det. Jeff Loughery grabbed one of the man’s arms and Fazio latched on to the other. The two, who were secured by safety harnesses, also grabbed him by his belt and tried to pull him closer.
Officer Robert Reed, the third cop on the ledge, handcuffed the man’s left hand to one of the bridge’s cables and his right hand to a rope controlled by officers back on the road.
The man struggled a bit, but his demeanor changed dramatically when officers pointed out that if he took the officers down with him, he’d be a murderer, Fazio said.
“I don’t want anything to happen to you guys. I want you guys to be safe, too,” Loughery recalled the man saying.
The officers put him in a harness and walked him up a ladder back to the road, where he had left his Dodge Caravan with the hazard lights on, according to police.
“He told us he wasn’t going to fight anymore,” Reed said.
As is customary in such cases, police did not release the name of the man. He was taken to Staten Island University North Hospital, police said.
While New York City police regularly receive reports of potential jumpers on the city’s bridges, Monday’s rescue was Reed’s first. But he had trained for this exact scenario on the same bridge just months before, as did Fazio only two or three weeks ago.
All three officers praised their colleagues supporting them back on the roadway, including Detectives Madelyn McTague and Eric Bembenek, who were the first to speak with the man, and Sgt. Eugene Javaruski and Lieutenants Franco Barberio and Richard Lobasso, who were in charge of the rescue.
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