When FDNY firefighter Randy Regan set off for work last Tuesday morning, March 20, it was just the start of another regular day.
The Irish American left his Upper West Side home around 7 a.m. and began his six-mile cycle down to Ladder 20 in SoHo.
“It's a nice route along the river,” Regan, 45, told the Irish Voice.
But cycling down by the Hudson, close to West 82nd Street, the father of two noticed something drifting downstream.
“You always see stuff floating, but I spotted something a little bigger and then I noticed it was a woman,” he said.
“She didn’t really seem distressed, she was more disorientated.”
When Regan called out to the lady she didn’t respond. With over 20-years experience in saving lives he carefully summed up his options. Meanwhile, two female bystanders called the emergency services.
“A couple of things crossed my mind -- there was a fence and rock wall I needed to climb down over, plus the water temperature,” said Regan.
As he took off his shirt and plunged into the Hudson waters, he says the 48-degree water took his breath away.
“I had never been in water that cold without a wetsuit,” Regan said.
Regan swam the 30 feet out to the victim, talking to her the whole time.
“I just kept talking to her. Once I reached her she let go of the log and gave me her hand and I swam her in,” he said.
Once back at the water’s edge, a few men helped Regan pull the woman to safety.
“At that point there were no emergency services. She was shivering, so we carried her down to the Boat Basin office where there was heating.”
As the emergency services arrived, an unfazed Regan set off on the last leg of his commute to work and made it to his firehouse 40 minutes early for his 9 a.m. shift.
“The police officer wanted a statement. I gave him my phone number and told him to give me call. I showed up at the firehouse soaking wet,” Regan recalls.
Flanked by his fellow FDNY co-workers at a press conference later that day, Regan said there was nothing extraordinary about his rescue.
“It didn’t seem like that big of a deal,” he said.
Regan’s father Jack Regan is a past president of the Irish American Association of Northwest Jersey who teaches set dancing at their clubhouse in Rockaway.