An NYPD aviation rescue crew had to thread the needle through the Palisades' dangerous cliffs over the Hudson River on Sunday to rescue a woman who fell and broke her ankle during a hike.
"It was the only way to really get in there," Officer Edgar Burroughs, one of the crew chiefs on the aircraft that made the rescue, coming within 20 feet of the cliffs, said Monday.
Burroughs, of Queens, was one of four crewmen on the helicopter who met the news media Monday to recount the dramatic rescue.
The Bell 412 helicopter was piloted by Officer Seth Levinstein, co-piloted by Officer Derin Devouno, of Amityville, with Det. Christos Tzavelis of Brooklyn acting as the senior crew chief.
They flew the chopper to the cliff area some 200 feet above the river to rescue a 36-year-old New Jersey woman who had slipped and fallen down a rocky escarpment.
The incident took place about two miles north of the Women's Federation monument, which honors women's groups that helped preserve the Palisades 85 years ago.
From the time the crew got the call around 3:25 p.m. at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, it took about 12 minutes to get to the scene.
Volunteer firefighters from Piermont had already stabilized the injured woman.
The terrain was steep and Levinstein, who grew up on Long Island's North Shore and has been with the NYPD aviation unit for more than seven years, needed to maneuver the aircraft perilously close to the cliff face. Then Burroughs was lowered down to the woman.
Burroughs first landed further down the slope and then, while still attached to the hoist, walked back with the assistance of the helicopter to the woman.
"I could have fallen down," Burroughs recalled. "We have to be very in synch to make those kind of movements."
The injured hiker was placed in a special lift and hoisted back to the helicopter as Tzavelis, a 21-year veteran of the unit, guided the device.
She was taken to nearby Nyack Hospital, where officials were unavailable for comment Monday.