2015-05-13 / Front Page

Bridge Rescue Cops Honored

By Liz Goff
NYPD and local officials joined Long Island City residents at the Sunnyside Community Services Center on April 28, where they honored four NYPD officers who helped save the life of a woman who was threatening to jump from the Kosciuszko Bridge on April 6.

108th Precinct Det. Meghan Kinsella and NYPD Emergency Service Det. Steven Stefanakos were presented with 108th Precinct “Cop Of The Month” awards for their rescu4 of the unidentified woman, who was poised to jump from the bridge when the cops arrived at the scene.

Kinsella’s partner, Police Officer Richard Neumann and Stefanakos’ partner, Det. Brian Hirsh, were also honored at the ceremony for providing support to the detectives and assisting in the rescue of the distraught woman.

Det. Kinsella, who has served for nine years as the 108th Precinct Domestic Violence Officer, established the precinct’s Domestic Violence Monitoring Group to provide counseling and support for youths who have been affected by domestic violence.

Police said Kinsella was returning to the precinct from a home visit when she heard a call regarding a suicidal female on the bridge that connects Long Island City with Brooklyn.

Kinsella raced to the bridge, 150 feet over Newtown Creek, where she spotted the suicidal woman standing on electrical conduit pipe along the bottom edge of the bridge, police officials said. 

The unidentified woman was grabbing a wire several feet from the top of the bridge to maintain her balance when she and Stefanakos began talking with her, urging her to let them lead her to safety. The two cops spent more than two hours using their NYPD “crisis communication skills” before they were able to talk her off the bridge, police officials said.

Kinsella said she repeatedly told the despondent woman that she, and Det. Stefanakos would not leave her until she was safely off the ledge. The two cops took turns speaking with the woman who, at one point, let go of the wire and bent her knees, police officials said. “The officers were terrified, at that point, that the woman was going to jump,” officials sad.

“Det Stefanakos asked the woman if she has a family, children who depend on her,” police officials said. “That was the moment when they knew they had broken through to the woman reached up and grabbed the wire, police officials said. “That was the moment when they knew they had broken through to her,”  the officials said. Moments later, the two officers reached down, grabbed the woman by the arm ad pulled her to safety.

Detective Kinsella hugged and kissed the woman for several moments before she was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where she was held for psychological evaluation.

“They simply let her know they were there to help,” 108th Precinct commanding officer, Captain John Travaglia said. “They shared stories about their own families with her, they talked about their own trials and triumphs within their own families.

“Detectives Kinsella and Stefanakos gained the trust of this woman by alternating a dialogue between each other, being nothing short of heartfelt and sincere,” Travagloa said.

Assistant Chief Diana Pizzuti, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, said the collaboration between the two detectives was “a little bit out of the norm.

“When the Emergency Services Unit comes, they usually take over, but they let Detective Kionsella stay, because she had established rapport with this woman and I think that was a tribute to the professionalism and cooperation between the two units,” Pizzuti said.

Travaglia praised Kinsella and Stefanakos saying individually, “they are the finest examples of humility, compassion and selflessness.

“On the afternoon of April 6, they came together and saved a life,” Travagloa said.

City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and members of the NYPD Dragon Boat team were also on hand for the ceremony.

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