A police officer persuaded a despondent man not to jump off a bridge by telling the man about her battle with cancer.
"I don't feel like a hero; I feel I did a good deed," said Officer Yolanda Lugo. "He seemed to be a very nice guy. It would have been a waste of his life."Lugo was driving home from work Tuesday night when a car stopped in front of her on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the driver began climbing a fence around a tower. The bridge connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
The driver, 26, told Lugo he was distraught because his wife had left him.
"No one wants to talk to me, no one cares," he told the young officer as he climbed 30 feet up the tower.
Lugo said she climbed up the tower after him and told him: "I care, I'm off-duty. I don't have to be here. If I didn't care, I wouldn't have stopped."
At 200 feet above the tower base, "I told him about myself, that I had cancer. I told him how hard it was to go through," Lugo said Wednesday.
Lugo, 25, is in remission from Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph system. She was a police cadet when she was diagnosed four years ago and had to undergo a year of chemotherapy. She joined the police force in June 1990.
"A lot of times I thought things weren't going to work out," Lugo told the man during the 30 minutes he stared over the edge of the bridge. "I told him how I didn't know if I had enough time."
When other police officers and ambulances arrived, Lugo climbed down, told them she had the situation under control and went back up the tower.
She persuaded the driver to climb down, and he was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital for observation, said police spokesman Officer Ralph St. Just.
Lugo visited him hours later, and he thanked her for saving his life.
"That was all the thanks I need. It made my day," she said.