A man attempting to test out a homemade raft was rescued from the East River Thursday night in a quick but dramatic operation coordinated by emergency responders in the water, on the ground and in the air.
Firefighters received a call at about 6 p.m. for a person in the water in the area of 87th Street and FDR Drive, and found a man there when they arrived, according to officials.
"We witnessed a person in the water struggling, hanging on to a life ring supported by a rope over a sea wall 40 feet in the air off the East River Drive," said one of the rescuers, Michael Krochak of Marine Unit 6. "That was the only thing he had for support at that point."
The man had been in the water for 15 to 20 minutes by that point, "so it was imperative to get him," said Krochak.
Krochak dove into the river, where the water temperature was estimated in the low 40s, and swam over to the man.
"I told him, 'You all right?'" he said. "He was pretty coherent still at the time. I said, 'I gotcha, grab on to me.' With that, I had a firm grip on him. I gave a signal, and Steve, my backup diver, pulled me back up over the boat.
"We brought him up to the stern of the boat, hoisted him up on the deck, immediately started CPR on him, got him warmed up," said Krochak. "And basically then we were concerned about his welfare. We wanted to get him medical attention as soon as possible."
Members of Marine 6 said the rescue was flawless.
"They're a product of their training," said Lt. Hughie Lynch, who oversaw the operation. "They knew their job, they got in and effected the rescue."
Steven Hoek, the backup diver, said, "Everybody has a job to do. Mike was the swimmer for the night. He suited up on the way up, we had about a 10- to 12-minute run up the river. By the time we got there, he was all ready to go.
"There were no butterflies," he said. "This is what we do."
The man was brought to Pier 90, where EMS transported him to the hospital. He did not appear to be suffering any apparent injuries, and he was checked for possible hypothermia.