Rookie Pelham Manor police officer plunges into Hutchinson River to save man


Fulton Avenue bridge

Sept. 2 was a wet night for John Luiso, but not because it was raining.

The Pelham Manor police officer received a call of a man in distress in the Hutchinson River and rushed to the scene at around 10:30 p.m. The little information he received indicated a man had jumped from the Fulton Avenue bridge and was barely able to swim, Luiso said.

When he arrived at the bridge, Luiso said he “saw a man who was struggling to keep himself above water and he was screaming for help.” 

Describing the event as “one of those things where your instincts just kick in,” the officer pulled off his gun belt and jumped into the water, swam into the middle of the river where the man was struggling and assisted him to the ledge of the bridge. From there, Luiso had to hold the victim up for about 25 minutes until the fire department arrived.

Firemen brought a ladder and were able to tie a rope around the victim and lift him to safety. The man was brought to the hospital shortly after, where the doctors found he wasn’t severely injured, Luiso said. He was able to make a full recovery.

With his quick thinking and heroic actions, you’d think Luiso was an experienced officer in the Pelham Manor Police Department. But he’s a rookie who graduated from the police academy in May and had been on the road by himself for about two months when the rescue occurred.

Luiso said he had recognized the similarities of this situation to another in March when a person whose car had submerged completely was rescued. He said the save was a cooperative effort and he is thankful that he was able to get to the man quickly.