Officers plunged into the Hudson River Saturday to retrieve one woman and pulled another to safety from the edge of a high-rise roof where she was perched with a knife in a day of dramatic rescues for the New York Police Department.
Around the same time two detectives were in the river helping a 59-year-old woman who had apparently jumped into the water off upper Manhattan's West Side, two other officers were on top of an apartment building across town, hoisting a 40-year-old woman over a security fence she had scaled to get the roof's ledge, police said.
"It feels good to do good," said Officer Christopher Cruzado, who was involved in the rooftop rescue.
In the river rescue, Emergency Service Unit Detectives Darren McNamara and Henry Medina arrived around 4:30 p.m. to find people on shore pointing to a woman floating in the water off West 131st Street, Medina recalled later in a telephone interview. The formerly industrial area is now a riverfront park with recreational piers.
The detectives leaped about 7 feet down into the water, which the U.S. Geological Service data pegged at about 70 degrees. McNamara swam about 30 feet to the woman, who was conscious but in distress, he said.
Medina tossed them a life ring. The woman held onto it as McNamara guided her to the sea wall, where Sgt. Raymond Smith and Detective Anthony Selvaggi had hopped over a railing to lower a ladder to the water, the officers recalled.
"We all pulled her up the ladder," Selvaggi said.
She was taken to Harlem Hospital, where she was in stable condition Saturday evening.
To the detectives, the conditions were mild compared to another recent water rescue in which they were involved _ in January.
"That water was cold," McNamara said. "This was nothing."
Some bystanders approached the rescuers with kudos afterward.
"Which was nice, because you don't get that too often," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Cruzado and Officer Jose Rivera were about 20 stories up on the roof near the East River on East 105th Street, talking through the chain-link security fence to the woman sitting on the edge, with a kitchen knife in her waistband. Her family had called police, saying she was distraught.
The officers hoped the conversation would keep "her mind going, thinking about something other than jumping" as they slowly approached her, Cruzado said by phone later.
After she mentioned the knife, Rivera persuaded her to put it down, Cruzado said. But then she stood up, holding the fence, saying she wanted to die, he said.
By then, the officers were close enough to reach over the fence, grab her arms and pull her, struggling, over the fence, Cruzado said. The entire encounter unfolded over only a few minutes.
"We just had to do what we had to do," said Cruzado, an officer for 4 1/2 years; Rivera has been on the force for eight years. They are assigned to the department's Housing Bureau, which works in public housing complexes
The woman was hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation.
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