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Officers Groger and Etter of the 20th Precinct pulled a man from freezing waters Christmas Eve


  • Officer Jack Etter, left, Sgt. Rosa Espinal and Officer Edward Groger of the Upper West Side's 20th Precinct. The two officers helped pull a man from the Hudson River's frigid waters on Dec. 24. Photo: Rui Miao


Edward Groger is 25. He is a big Rangers fan, loves working out and goes to the gym at least five times a week. Jack Etter is 27. He too has a penchant for hockey, among other sports; he played in college, and “hasn’t given up the glorious days” by playing in men’s recreation league games “here and there.”

Groger and Etter spend most of their days together —and when they do, they become Officers Groger and Etter of the New York City Police Department’s 20th Precinct, on the Upper West Side.

Although few of their days are comprised of monotony, there’s the occasional extraordinary incident that stands apart, as there was on Christmas Eve, when they pulled a man from the freezing Hudson River, essentially saving his life.

The officers, who were patrolling the neighborhood, were dispatched to Riverside Park and found the man waist-deep in the frigid waters. Groger and Etter had little time to think and scurried down the boating dock ramp into the Hudson and grabbed the distraught man back to safety.

He was showing early signs of hyperthermia. Two other officers helped Groger and Etter carry the man over the boating dock fence and bring him to a police vehicle. The officers cut off some of the man’s wet clothing and draped him in Etter’s dry jacket before EMS workers took him to Roosevelt Hospital.

Police later determined the man, whose name was not made public, was from New Jersey, and had left a suicide note at home.

This is a nonetheless outstanding but not-so-rare-case for the officers. “We deal with a lot of emotionally disturbed people,” said Groger. “We try and handle them with care and compassion ... show them that life is worth living — there is more to it than just ending it.”

The young officers are passionate about their multifaceted job.

“There is no routine day of this job,” said Etter. “You always go home with a different story.”

“There’s never a dull moment,” said Groger. “Every day is a learning experience.”

Groger and Etter share an affection for the community they serve. “It’s a very beautiful neighborhood,” said Etter.

His partner agreed: “It’s a very nice community, very friendly and supportive of all of us.”

The call of duty runs in the blood of the officers. Groger is a third-generation NYPD officer, who was born and raised in the Bronx. He always wanted to become a police officer. “I knew from the youngest age what I was getting myself into,” he said. “It runs in the family.”

Etter, from Long Island, is also a third-generation officer and a second-generation city officer.

“We are very proud to having them at the 20th Precinct,” said Sgt. Rosa Espinal. “They are both very young, but when they put on that uniform, they know what they are doing.”

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