Friday, October 19, 2018

Jumper in the East River. His logical reason for jumping will surprise you

Nice Summer day, August 1993. I'm working the 5pm-1am shift with my longtime partner Steve. We had just dropped a patient off at Metropolitan Hospital, made a left on 96 street and headed toward the FDR north to get back to our area. As I swing the ambulance left onto the service road of the FDR and head for the highway itself:
"32 Charlie" blares over the police division radio.
"32 Charlie K"
"32 Charlie I'm getting multiple reports of  man in the water approximately 135st and the FDR ESU and Harbor on the way"
"32 Charlie 10-4. We're on the way". And so were we. Steve picks up the mic and advises the EMS dispatcher to put us on the job.
Approximately 1 minute later we pull up to the railing at 135 street and the Harlem Drive and sure enough, in the middle of the East River there's a black dude, looks about 20 years old threading water. No not drowning but swimming calmly like Mark Spitz doing leisure laps.  All of a sudden he stops and looks above just as two divers leap from a helicopter beside him. More surprising to Harlem's version of Aqua-man, the two flipper-ed cops ascend back to the surface and grab hold of of him just as the police harbor boat pulls up. Suddenly he's grabbed from all sides by close to a dozen cops and hauled aboard the boat, slammed onto the deck and quickly handcuffed with some cop standing over him with his foot firmly planted on our soggy friends back.
Steve and I are directed to meet the cops at 125 street and Marginal Street to take partial custody of our emotionally disturbed man who set to end it by jumping into the East River. I go to the back of the ambulance, open the doors and our patient is dumped on the stretcher. I climb up the back step and go to the head and try to get some info while Steve checks the guy for injuries.
He's face down handcuffed. He lifts his head, looks at me and goes:

"What the fuck is going on?"he yells

It takes me a moment to answer him.

"Hey man, what the fuck is going on"he yells louder this time

I look at him and explain nothing personal but attempted suicide is a crime in New York. If you succeed that's different. Steve lets out a bit of chuckle

"Who the fuck is trying to commit suicide"he asks me with a quizzical look on his face I immediately took as genuine.

"My brother, my clothes I are dry" I say to him

"Yo!Yo! I wasn't trying to commit suicide!"

"Then why'd you jump in the water'
Yo! It takes 45 minutes and $2.00 dollars to get across to the Bronx on the bus. I can swim there in 20 minutes and I ain't gotta pay shit!"he answers indignantly
I turned and look at the cop sitting next to me and said " Let him go. He's sane as shit" The cop looks at me with a smile on his face " I heard him too.But the only place he's going is to Bellevue"

I look back at the guy " sorry my brother. Nothing I can do"

Steve closes the back doors and to the hospital. No of us said a word the whole trip.