On Dec. 19, Seafarers sailing on a NY Waterway ferry went above and beyond to prevent an attempted suicide by drowning.
SIU members Capt. Ken Recine and Deckhands Travis Brumfield and Roberto Valdez Garcia put years of awareness training to use when, at around 9:30 p.m., Brumfield spotted a woman acting strangely as they prepared to dock at the Battery Park City ferry terminal.
“I saw a lady who was sitting and looked kind of dispirited,” said Brumfield. “As Waterway employees, we are trained in security awareness. I decided to take precautions, so I asked her, did she want to board, and she said no, she’s alright.”
When the ferry returned to the terminal, he realized they needed to act: “As we approached Brookfield again, she was approaching the wall next to the terminal, and these are the words that came out of her mouth, ‘I feel betrayed. I don’t want to live any more. There’s nothing for me.’”
Brumfield and Garcia alerted the captain, who called the New York Police Department’s harbor patrol.
“We were already headed into Slip 4, where we were supposed to dock, and I backed out and positioned the vessel over by where she was on the wall,” said Recine. “We were full of passengers at the time, but I didn’t even consider the schedule at that point. Someone’s life was in danger.”
As the deckhands donned life vests and made ready the vessel’s hook and ladder lifesaving equipment, an off-duty ticketing agent ran up to the woman and began to talk her down.
Recine said, “We returned to Jersey City to drop people off and by the time we turned around, there were police boats here, a helicopter in the sky, the fire department was at the wall. It took all of five minutes. They were quick.”
The captain credited the awareness of his deckhands with spotting the distressed woman, and stated, “The only thing that prepared me for something like this was a lifetime in the boating industry, and being a team player. I’d encourage all mariners to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and look out for one another.”