Police officer jumps off highway overpass to aid injured boy

Posted at 4:41 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-07 18:41:25-04

A suburban New York police officer says she jumped from an overpass on Friday to save a 12-year-old boy’s life, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reports.

Officer Jessie Ferreira Cavallo, of Hastings-on-Hudson, was on her way to work when she and other passers-by saw a boy jump off an overpass. He lay unconscious on the ground several feet below, and Ferreira Cavallo says she sprung into action. "Everything happened so fast and I think my adrenaline was pumping so high," she told the newspaper. 

The officer says she immediately parked her car on the shoulder, grabbed first-aid materials and then jumped right off the overpass after the boy.

"I wasn’t thinking too much," Ferreira Cavallo said. "He looked dead. I couldn’t see anything other than blood. I thought to myself, ‘He needs help. I need to help him.’"

She wasn’t the only person to spring into action. An off-duty officer from a different department stopped to help, too.

The boy was unresponsive and the two women put a neck brace and splint on him and checked his airway. "Both me and her together, we were able to aid him and assist him," Ferreira Cavallo said. "We were talking to each other like we worked together," even though they’d never met before.

The other officer has been identified as Laura Yakaboski, a Yonkers police officer who just happened to be passing by at the right time, Yonkers Police Sgt. Jared Singer told CBS News via email. 

Ferreira Cavallo says the boy opened his eyes but "wasn’t really responding back" when she talked to him. An ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital for injuries were described as serious but non-life threatening. He suffered a broken arm, broken nose, and leg injuries, Westchester County police spokesman Kieran O’Leary told CBS News.

O’Leary said the boy fled from Andrus, which is a a private, nonprofit organization for children with severe emotional, behavioral and mental health issues, according to its website. Staff members ran after the boy before he jumped over a guardrail and off the overpass, which is about 35 feet high, O’Leary estimates. 

Ferreira Cavallo told the newspaper that the risks she took didn’t really hit her until the next day. "Friday, after this whole thing happened, I went to work and worked to 11 p.m.," she said. "That’s when it hit me. I didn’t realize how high it was. It seemed doable. It didn’t seem that high."

"I thought I jumped over a brick wall, or a cement barrier. It was so fast. It was more like tunnel vision," Ferreira Cavallo said. 

Ferreira Cavallo, 28, has received about six lifesaving awards in her seven years as a police officer, she says, and has also been recognized for undercover work with the FBI. After the weekend rescue, she said she was planning on visiting the boy in the hospital as he recovered. "I just want to give him a hug," she said.