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Four Tense Hours Results In Heroic Rescue At VN By Bridge and Tunnel Officer

Bridge and Tunnel Officer Eddie N. Fung spent four hours trying to keep a despondent man from jumping off the upper level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge -; and succeeded. Yet he doesn't consider himself a hero.

Image of Bridge and Tunnel Officer Eddie N. Fung
BTO Eddie N. Fung (center) is congratulated for his heroic actions by Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara (far right).
Left to right: Capt. Richard Hildebrand, B&T Command Center, Vice President and Chief of Operations James Fortunato, Bridge and Tunnel Officer Eddie N. Fung, Director of Central Operations Daniel DeCrescenzo and Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara.

"I tried my best that's all, and in the end I'm glad I could save someone's life," said the soft-spoken officer, who was still hoarse from the tense drama that unfolded at the bridge on the afternoon of July 23rd.

Officer Fung, who joined Bridges and Tunnels in February 2008 and has been at the Verrazano-Narrows the last three years, was on routine patrol at the toll plaza when a supervisor called him to the upper level about 12:30 p.m. A man had climbed onto a support girder mid-span on the upper level, 200-feet above the water, and was threatening to jump.

The man apparently did not speak or understand English so Officer Fung, 48, who came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1978, began speaking to him in Cantonese.

NYPD's ESU, Harbor and Hostage Negotiating teams were called, along with FDNY EMS and Coast Guard officials. "It was the first time I've ever been involved in something like this so I just tried to focus on the situation," Officer Fung said. "I just knew I didn't want the man to jump."

Coached by NYPD negotiators, Officer Fung did his best to establish a connection with the man. For most of the next four hours, with only a couple of breaks, BTO Fung kept the man talking. He learned that the man was distraught over financial and family problems. He also learned that the man was from the same town in China where Fung's father was born.

"The one thing that was clear to me was how much he loved his daughter," Officer Fung said, "so I focused on that relationship." Finally, at 4:40 p.m., the man slowly inched his way back to safety.

After being put inside a waiting ambulance, the distraught man had one more question for Officer Fung. "He asked me if I would ride in the ambulance to the hospital with him. He trusted me." Officer Fung gladly made the trip. "I told him he will feel better tomorrow, and now will have a chance to see his family, and work things out.

"It was a very intense situation," said Vice President and Chief of Operations James Fortunato, who was at the scene, "and I was proud to see our officer working hand-in-hand with NYPD emergency units and detectives to bring this drama to a successful conclusion."