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A quiet Wednesday morning on patrol for two cops from the 61st Precinct ended in a life-and-death struggle with an unhinged man trying to vault himself from a Kings Highway building, officials said this week. When the dust settled, Police Officers Craig Austin and Michael Franco of the 61st Precinct were lauded as heroes for pulling a man back from the brink of an untimely death. Police said that the officers and Sergeant Antero Alvarado were on routine patrol at 10:32 a.m. that morning when they were dispatched to Kings Highway near McDonald Avenue, where an emotionally disturbed person was found sitting on the top of a Sephardic Center, preparing to jump. The man, who was not named, was found with a rope tied around his neck apparently unsure if he wanted to die by hanging or from a sudden impact with the street below. The would-be jumper was also in a hard to reach area, on a secondary easement that wasnt accessible from inside the building, witnesses said. Thinking fast, the officers grabbed a two-story extension ladder they found on the ground, and scrambled up the rungs to the top, praying that they werent too late. They werent, but the distraught man was inching ever closer to the ledge. Police said that as Officer Austin began to engage the man in a conversation, Officer Franco tried to see just what the other end of the rope around his neck was connected to. Thats when the jumper put both feet over the edge. The officers continued to inch closer as they calmly talked to the jumper. But their words of assurance did little to stop the jumper, who, with the two cops just ten feet away, broke off conversation and stepped over the ledge. With a speed they didnt know they had, Officer Franco and Sergeant Alvarado grabbed the jumper just as he was about to fall out of reach. The jumper struggled with them, but Officer Franco and Sergeant Alvarado prevailed and pulled him back to safety as Officer Austin cut the rope wrapped around his neck. Police said that instead of a body bag, the emotionally disturbed man was placed in handcuffs and whisked away to Coney Island Hospital. While lauded as heroes, the cops shrugged off the save, responding to well wishers with the modest reply, We were just doing our jobs.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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