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21. Because the Staten Island Ferry Saved Someone's Life

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On a balmy morning in September, when steering the John J. Marchi back from Manhattan, Captain Chris Covella saw something bobbing in the waves ahead, nearly a mile from the shore. “I picked the binoculars up and confirmed it was a person,” says Covella. Downstairs, the crew mobilized, lowering a skiff into the water that contained deckhands Ephriam Washington and Michael Sabatino. Less than four minutes later, they pulled up alongside the figure—a woman in her mid-twenties, wearing red shorts and a black sports bra—floating facedown in the surf. Sabatino grabbed her ankle, and Washington lifted her shoulders out of the water. The girl gasped. They sped the boat to the Staten Island terminal, where rescuers transported the woman—Hannah Upp, 23, a schoolteacher whose disappearance from her Hamilton Terrace apartment more than two weeks before had confounded her family and friends—to Richmond University Medical Center. Only eight minutes had elapsed since the captain spotted her in the water. Upp has since written on a Facebook page created by her friends that she was suffering from “dissociative fugue” and had no memory of how she ended up in the bay. But she did remember the ferry workers who saved her life: Upp showed up to thank them at a community-board meeting in Willowbrook, where they were being honored a month after the incident. “She told us she was very grateful to be alive and well,” says Covella. “It was very emotional. I got all choked up.” They took her out for pizza.


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