According to Weehawken Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Fulcher, a 46-year-old resident of Cresskill in Bergen County, allegedly drove his car to the parking area adjacent to Arthur's Landing restaurant, leaving his wallet and a Bible on the dashboard, and proceeded to jump right into the Hudson River.
"We received a cell phone call from apparently someone in the restaurant, saying that someone went into the Hudson River," Fulcher said.
The call was received by 911 operators in Weehawken at 3:25 p.m.
Immediately, a Weehawken patrol car, with Lt. Richard DeCosmis, Jr. and Officer Jon Sabato, arrived at the scene. Soon after, the New York Police Department's Harbor Patrol sent its rescue boat to the area, as well as the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Squad.
"When Lt. DeCosmis arrived, he noticed the man about 25 yards from shore and he was apparently quoting passages from scripture out loud," Fulcher said. "One of the dock workers nearby handed Lt. DeCosmis a life vest and he threw it out to the man, but there was no response."
A water rescue
When DeCosmis saw that the man at first was not responding to the rescue efforts, he jumped into the water to save the man himself.
"Richie spoke to the guy and tried to calm him down," Fulcher said. "The man said that his arms and legs were getting tired and that he could no longer tread water. He was afraid he was going to go down. Richie talked to the guy and he then admitted that he didn't want to die and wanted help, so Richie pulled him back to the shore. Richie went into the water and the man changed his mind about wanting to die."
After DeCosmis brought the man back to the shore safely about 25 minutes after he plunged into the water, the two men were transported to Palisades Medical Center for observation. DeCosmis told his superior officers that he was fine and didn't require medical attention, but he went anyway for safety reasons.
"There were no injuries to either Lt. DeCosmis or [the man]," Fulcher said. "The man appeared to be in distress, but then had a change of heart. The rescue efforts appeared to be necessary and Lt. DeCosmis should be commended for his heroic actions."
The man remained at Palisades Medical Center overnight, where he was listed in "fair, but good" condition Friday morning.
"It was a case of Lt. DeCosmis telling the man to calm down, that he was going to be fine," Fulcher said. "Once Richie calmed the man down, everything was fine. He then recognized that the man needed his help and he went into the water to save him."
Fulcher said that DeCosmis will be put up for commendations for his act of bravery and heroic rescue.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.