Man in Hudson, Off Pier 25, Tries to Fight Off His Good Samaritan Rescuers

After being pulled from the Hudson River by civilians, an unidentified man is transferred to an NYPD Harbor Unit boat by police. The man had to be restrained when he learned that the police had arrived, one of the rescuers said. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

May. 24, 2018

A drunken man who had jumped into the Hudson River near Pier 25 Wednesday evening tried to fight off Good Samaritans attempting to save him before finally being pulled from the water, one of his rescuers said.

John Pommerehn, 47, owner of Dive Tech, an underwater boat maintenance service, and his partner Roland Granados, 45, were answering a call to untangle the line of a disabled boat near Pier 25 around 8:20 p.m. when they heard people screaming that someone was in the water, just south of the pier.

“We immediately went over there and found this guy,” Pommerehn told the Trib in a phone interview. “He was extremely intoxicated.”

Treading water no more than five feet from the seawall, Pommerehn said the man’s friend and police officers on shore tried to get the man to go on a life ring that was thrown to him, but he couldn’t figure out how to stay on it.

“There’s no way to get out of that water,” Pommerehn said. “He did try to climb the wall a couple of times and kept sliding out because it was low tide, and [the wall] was just slime. He’d get like a block up and then fall down…you could hear his nails scratching on the seawall.”

But when the two men in the boat tried to put their hands on him and pull him aboard, Pommerehn said, “he got extremely hostile and combative” and punched Granados. He was “just being drunk and stupid” and yelled to the rescuers to “fuck off.”

“At that point it gets dangerous,” Pommerehn said. “People like that will kill you in the water.”

Pommerehn and Granados are trained rescue divers and rescue swimmers and are taught, Pommerehn said, to wait for combative subjects to tire or give up. “So that’s what we did. We waited there and while we were waiting for him to tire we dialed 911. After about 10 or 15 minutes he was at the point where we could get him in the boat. Then he just kind of laid down on the floor.”

But once the man, who Pommerehn estimated to be in his early 20s and has not been publicly identified, learned that an NYPD Harbor Patrol boat had arrived, he started to get hostile again “so me and Roland grabbed him. The police jumped onto the boat to help us restrain him, and then they transferred him over.”

While on the boat, Pommerehn said, the man muttered something he could not understand about a woman—possibly a mother or sister or girlfriend—who he had lost recently. “He was distraught over that, but I don’t think he was trying to kill himself.”

The FDNY said the man was taken to Bellevue Hospital. A police spokesman could provide no further information about him or the incident.