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Former Auxiliary Officer Helps Rescue Would-Be Jumper On GWB

Jason Kesselman
Jason Kesselman Photo Credit: COURTESY: Jason Kesselman

FORT LEE, N.J. -- Jason Kesselman of River Vale couldn't recall the words he used Wednesday morning to keep a suicidal man clinging to the outer railing of the George Washington Bridge until police got there.

"I've tried to remember, but I don't know exactly what I said," the former New Milford auxiliary police officer told Daily Voice hours later. "It all just happened. Me and another guy who was there basically let him know we were there for him, that it wasn't worth it."

Kesselman, a 44-year-old father of three, was headed to his woodworking job at family-owned Designs By Scott in Brooklyn around 6:30 a.m. when traffic suddenly slowed in front of him.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing," he said. "This guy was climbing onto the railing.

"As I pulled up, he climbed over the side.

"I was in the far right lane," Kesselman said, "so I threw my car in park and jumped over the barrier that separates the road from the walkway.

"When I got to him, he was hanging off the side of the bridge -- holding on with two hands."

Another man joined Kesselman and they began talking with the man, described by Port Authority police as a 35-year-old Guatemalan national.

"I squatted down to talk with him, and it was like looking at someone through the bars of a jail cell," Kesselman said. "I didn't want to rush him, but I was worried that he'd fall.

"The next thing I see is two police officers running full speed toward me, he said. "They got between me and him and started talking to him. Then they grabbed him.

"I grabbed his belt from behind and the three of us lifted him up and over. As I was lifting him, I thought: 'It's a long way down'."

Several backup officers had arrived by then. A Fort Lee ambulance took the man to Bergen Regional Medical Center for an evaluation.

"The officers tried to thank me, but I thanked them. They saved him," Kesselman said. "It was a good ending to what could have been a horrible situation."

Kesselman gave them his information in case they needed it. Then he returned to his car.

"I called my wife (Andrea) and woke her up," he said. "I just started crying.

"When I was in the moment, I just did what I had to do and said what I had to say. I thank my training with the New Milford Auxiliary Police for that. It helped me help someone else.

"Now I just hope he gets the help he needs."

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