FF, Police Teamwork Responsible for Saving Drowning Man's Life
Detective Andy Bershad (above) and good Samaritan Jonathan Barbosa were among the daring New Yorkers who saved a jumper and his friend at this East River spot.
New York Daily News via YellowBrix
July 29, 2010
NEW YORK – Three firefighters and a cop plunged into the roiling East River yesterday to rescue a suicidal man who jumped from an East Harlem pier as well as two men who tried desperately to save him, authorities said.
The drama on Pier 107 began at about 12:15 p.m. when Richard Karin, 60, who had been drinking, leaped in, sources said.
His friend, Carlos Rivera, 45, tried to rescue him but found himself battling the currents.
“When the guy fell in, that’s when the other guy jumped in to save him,” said Jamel Ali, 34, who was riding his bike near the pier at East 107th Street.
A good Samaritan, Jonathan Barbosa, 28, who was standing on the pier, then leaped in to help the drowning men.
Witnesses heard the men shouting: “Help! Help!”
The first cop to arrive, Detective Andy Bershad, said he untied his shoe laces, emptied his pockets en route and jumped in.
He spotted Rivera, who seemed to be losing his struggle to survive. “When I looked over the pier I saw that he was getting tired, so I grabbed him and kept his head above water,” he said.
Four firefighters, from Engine Co. 53/Ladder 43, then joined the rescue effort. Firefighter Christopher Schickler, 29, pulled a second man to safety.
“The current was taking him under the pier,” Schickler said. “So I just followed what my boss said and went in and got him.”
Firefighter Shane Benac grabbed a second victim and firefighter Matt Lopez got the third. A fourth firefighter, John Rodriguez, assisted with the rescue ladder, authorities said.
Karin was rushed in critical condition to Metropolitan Hospital and Rivera was taken in serious condition to Mount Sinai Hospital. Barbosa refused medical attention.
All four firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
“Right now it looks like everyone is going to survive. Two of them weren’t in the greatest shape,” said FDNY Battalion Chief Jim Gintey. “I don’t want to speculate on what could have been — but it was a good thing that they got them when they did.”