WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police officers went above and beyond to pull off a dramatic rescue in extreme conditions to help a man in need.
On Monday, the officers were hailed as heroes after going up 28 stories on a bridge to pull a man to safety.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the whole ordeal was caught on camera.
Suffolk County Police released the video of the officers scaling the Robert Moses Bridge superstructure to rescue the suicidal man at 8:30 on Sunday morning.
“He exited the vehicle, had all his doors open, and had his music really loud,” Officer Billy Judge said.
Judge and his partner Glen Baillargeon trained for such scenarios using harnesses and equipment, but this was the first time they put their training to use — 286-feet above the waters of the Fire Island inlet on a thin steel girder.
“It was very narrow, maybe 10 inches wide,” Judge said, “He was on the outside of the railing holding onto the light.”
The man, whose name has not been released, initially refused to cooperate.
“I said we really care about you. We want to get you out of this, and he said ‘you don’t care about me’ and I said ‘me and my partner are the only two up here with you right now, that’s got to tell you something,” Judge said.
It took nearly 3 hours, and 20 to 25 mph wind gusts didn’t help.
“I was trying to put a piece of webbing over the top of him, but it was too windy. The wind was taking the webbing,” Judge recalled.
Finally they got a harness on the man, and he agreed to slowly climb back down.
“At one point he looked up to me and he goes ‘Billy, thank you,’ I said, ‘my friend, thank you for giving me this opportunity to get you out of here,” Judge said.
“What happened on Sunday, it was an unbelievable act of bravery and skill,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said.
Officer Judge said he doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a professional.
The rescued man was taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.