A New York City firefighter who saved a 4-year-old girl from a blazing apartment building may have considered it “just another day at the office” at the time, but 37 years later, he is realizing exactly how much of an impact he had.
Following the 1983 fire, Deirdre Taylor’s family left New York. As the years passed, her chances of seeing and thanking her rescuer diminished, but her desire to do so persisted.
She had unsuccessfully tried to locate him online throughout the years.
Deirdre told the New York Daily News, “I had no idea if he was still alive, especially after September 11.” A portion of me believed I had waited too long to locate him.
Dierdre is a nurse who resides in Virginia with her spouse and children. She just chose to “pay it forward” in New York City by returning to the frontlines of the pandemic to save lives.
Dierdre finally located Eugene Pugliese, Jr., the man who saved her life, as a result of her actions.
She sent a newspaper clipping with a photograph of Eugene from Ladder Company 20 cradling a young girl during the 1983 fire. The headline says, “Firefighter braves flames, saves 4-year-old in SoHo.”
Two weeks ago, Deirdre was working the evening shift at the hospital when a group of firefighters stopped by to express their gratitude to the medical staff. She decided to inquire if they knew the man pictured…
One of the individuals responded, “Oh, Gene. I’ve met Gene. I have his number stored in my phone.” An hour later, she received a phone call from Eugene and discovered he had never forgotten her.
He told her, “You’ve been on my wall for 25 years.”
Now 75 years old, Gene recalls the day clearly. “I didn’t even have gear on. I was equipped with a helmet and an ax, he told the Daily News. .,
Initially, he located Deidre’s mother. She begged him to preserve her child as well. His crew saved the mother, and he located Deirdre a few minutes later.
Deirdre cannot see Eugene in person since she saves lives from a hazardous infection. However, they agreed to meet as soon as it is safe to do so. Deirdre is currently counting her blessings.
Deirdre told CNN, “I’ve always known that I came near to losing my life that day.” “If not for him, I would not be here. He provided me a second opportunity at life.”