FDNY Captain Who Rescued Drowning Ferry Rider Named Brooklyn Hero

The Patch - October 05, 2019

by Anna Quinn, Patch Staff

The borough president named Capt. Frank Stonitsch a hero for jumping off-duty into the East River to save a person who had fallen in.

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN — A firefighter who saved a person drowning in the East River while he was riding his bike off-duty by Brooklyn Bridge Park has been named one of the borough's heroes.

FDNY Capt. Frank Stonitsch was honored as the "Hero of the Month" for September by Borough President Eric Adams on Thursday after he jumped into the East River to save a person that had fallen off Pier 6 and was drowning near a docked ferry boat.

Stonitsch had been riding his bike with his daughter near the pier when he heard a ferry crew member scream "Man overboard!" and jumped into action, the FDNY captain said.

"I used to be a lifeguard so I knew I would be able to help," Stonitsch said in an FDNY post, adding that a woman offered to watch his daughter on the pier. "When I jumped in, I found an individual about 15 to 20 feet under the pier."

The FDNY and NYPD Harbor units had arrived by the time Stonitsch emerged from the water with the drowning person, who he gave a sling the ferry had lowered into the water. The person was safely sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

His daughter, who joined him at the heroes ceremony this week, watched from the pier.

"Once I knew they were safe, I looked over to see my daughter laughing and waving at me," he said. "I was just in the right place at the right time."

Stonitsch was honored along with the borough president's heroes for June, July and August, including MTA workers who saved people from subway tracks, a woman who cleared a flooded highway with a traffic cone, a Bay Ridge volunteer organization and a resident who started a water collection drive.

"Our Heroes of the Month showcase the best our borough and our city has to offer," Adams said. "These individuals stepped up when they were needed most, exemplifying the qualities of bravery, selflessness, and sacrifice. We are proud to have these heroes representing our borough, and look forward to their future contributions to Brooklyn and New York."