Rockaway Resident In River Rescue
By Howard Schwach
A Rockaway carpenter working at Roosevelt Island last week became an inadvertent hero when he and a co-worker jumped into the dirty water of the East River to rescue a young man who had jumped off the Triborough Bridge in an apparent suicide attempt.
Hank Vought, 49, of Belle Harbor, a member of Carpenter’s Union, Local 57, working for the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation at Goldwater Hospital on the Island, says that he stepped outside before work last Friday morning, when he heard another worker yelling that there was a man drowning in the river nearby.
"I was curious about what was going on, so I went down to the river, never thinking about going in myself," Vought told The Wave. "’I saw this kid floating in the river, shouting for help."
Since there was nobody else around, Vought decided to help.
"People say that there are two things you learn to do in Rockaway – swim and drink," he says with a laugh. "I took off my shoes and pants and jumped in."
Along with a co-worker, Joe Tynan of Ozone Park, he managed to grab the man and pull him to shore, where rescue units were waiting.
"It seemed like it took a half hour, but it probably was more like five minutes," he says.
"If it were February, I probably would have thought twice about it," he says now, adding, "I don’t think that my life was ever in danger, so I don’t feel like a hero."
The unidentified jumper was taken to Elmhurst Hospital for observation.
Police sources say that this is not the first time that the man had jumped from the bridge.