Two police divers had just reported for work at Floyd Bennett Field early yesterday morning when the call came in – a woman in pajamas was perched on the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge. As Al Baker tells the story in today’s New York Times, Michael Cocchi and Jeffry Dowling grabbed their suits, snorkels and masks, as well as a tubular shaped flotation device, and headed for the chopper.
Along with pilot Erin Nolan and co-pilot Michael Sileo, they rushed to the scene. While the dive team was in the air, word came the woman had jumped into the icy water from the north side of the bridge, from about 100 feet. Cocchi and Dowling knew they had to work fast:
Detective Nolan positioned the aircraft about 10 feet above the water, and 20 feet south of where the woman was bobbing on the surface, the current pulling her toward the Manhattan side of the river. Then the divers jumped — Detective Cocchi followed by Officer Dowling… When they reached the woman, whom the police declined to identify, they put the device around her. “We just hooked her up,” said Detective Cocchi. The divers then used a line attached to the device to ferry the woman to a Fire Department boat that had also responded to the call. “The fire boat came and we thought it was safe to swim her over to the boat,” Detective Cocchi said. The woman was pulled aboard and the officers climbed in, too. She wasturned over to Emergency Medical Service workers on the Manhattan side and they took her to Bellevue Hospital Center, where she was in stable condition on Saturday afternoon. “She definitely made a mistake, and it is nice to be able to save her life,” Detective Cocchi said.