A cop who saved a despondent man from jumping off the Verrazano Bridge was honored for his heroics by the City Council on Sept. 12.
Police Officer Yi Huang received a proclamation from Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge) during a ceremony at City Hall. Council Speaker Christine Quinn also attended the ceremony.
Huang used his native Cantonese to communicate with the non-English speaking distraught man, according to police, who said the man was threatening to jump to his death.
Here’s what happened: on the afternoon of Monday, July 23,, police received a call that a man had parked his car on the Verrazano Bridge and had gotten out and stepped over the railing. It looked like the man was getting ready to jump into the water some 400 feet below.
Officers rushed to the scene and as several officers attempted to talk to the man, they discovered he only spoke Chinese. That’s when the Emergency Services Unit put out a call for an officer who could speak Cantonese. Huang answered the call. He rushed to the scene and immediately began speaking to the distraught man who was threatening to jump.
Huang quickly noticed that he and the man shared a similar accent and soon realized they both hailed from the same exact village – the small village of Taishan – a coastal city in China’s southern Guangdong province.
Having emigrated to America when he just four years old, Huang said he could empathize with the man and what he was going through as a distressed father dealing with the clash of traditional Asian cultures and his daughter’s American values. By relating his own personal experiences, Huang was able to get the man to think about the day he would see his daughter get married and the one day he might hold his first grandchild.
After four hours of tense negotiations, along with rain, lighting and heavy winds, the man finally allowed officers to pull him to safety. Huang said he was just the translator and that the rescue was truly a team effort.
“Today we honor Officer Yi Huang for going above and beyond the call of duty,” Gentile said. “Officer Huang reminds us all why the New York City Police Department truly is New York’s Finest.”