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Rutherford Fire Chief: 'Serendipitous' That He Helped Rescue GWB Jumper

Scott Koen at the helm of the Lt. Michael T. Murphy as responders tend to the jumper. Photo Credit: DAILY VOICE PHOTO
Units await the Lt. Michael T. Murphy on the Manhattan shore. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Scott Koen

RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- "My legs are broken," a woman who jumped from the George Washington Bridge in a failed suicide try told Scott Koen of Rutherford before he helped pluck her from the Hudson River on Tuesday.

Koen -- whose boat has been used for rescues that included "Miracle on the Hudson" Flight 1549 -- had taken members of New Square Hatzalah and Monsey Chavirim to search for the body of a Rockland County man who jumped nearly two weeks ago.

"They held the ceremony where they cast bread on the water," he told Daily Voice. "The bread is supposed to go where the body is. But the tide was coming in and took it north."

Sonar showed something near a buoy, but it was nothing, said Koen, who is a Rutherford 2nd assistant fire chief.

Two divers had resurfaced there when one saw the 25-year-old Somerset County woman plunge more than 200 feet.

Moments later, a NYPD chopper arrived.

"They saw the divers getting back into the boat and thought we were a rescue team," Koen said. "Then we saw the helicopter hovering over one spot. I cut the anchor lines and went over.

"I found her floating on her back."

Koen pulled alongside and tried to throw her a line.

"I can't get up," she said. "My legs are broken."

Climbing down the diver ladder, Koen got a line under her arms. The divers and EMS workers then pulled her on deck, and Koen steered the "Lt. Michael P. Murphy" to the Manhattan shore.

"I just nosed up and police and EMS came aboard," he said. "They packaged her up and Marine One transferred her to land."

She was recovering at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, Port Authority officials said.

Koen, who grew up in the Adirondacks, was working at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum when he met his wife, Eileen. They bought the Rutherford house she grew up in and live there now.

The "Lt. Michael P. Murphy" was an Intrepid work boat that Koen bought at a surplus sale. Docked year-round at Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, the 46-foot, 20-ton buoy tender is named for the "lone survivor" Navy Seal who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the war in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, Koen will participate in the moving of the Baylander -- a privately-owned former Vietnam-era vessel known as "the smallest aircraft carrier in the world" -- to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There, a special ceremony will include the release of homing pigeons adorned with lights.

"It's how the military communicated in the 1800s," Koen explained. "They're building coops there like the ones they had on the piers back then.

"These kinds of things -- it's all very serendipitous," he told Daily Voice. "Not that many people keep an operational boat during the winter, so I get a lot of work.

"Things just seem to happen around me."

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