A heartwarming tale of a nurse reuniting with a firefighter, 36 years after the latter rescued her from a burning apartment building has come to light. Dierdre was only 4 years old when the incident happened in 1983 in New York. Now, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the two finally reunited.
Dierdre, who is settled in Virginia with her family, recently decided to return to New York City to help the city with the major COVID-19 crisis that it was dealing with. Little did she know where this path would lead her.
"I didn't know if he was still alive, particularly after Sept 11. Part of me thought I waited too long to track him down," Deirdre told the New York Daily News.
About a fortnight ago, Deirdre was working her shift at the hospital when a group of firefighters paid a visit to thank all the healthcare workers. She showed them a newspaper cut out she keeps with her. The cut out is from 37 years ago and the headline reads -- Fireman braves flames, rescues SoHo 4-yr-old -- with a picture of a firefighter carrying with him a little girl.
One of them answered, "Oh, Gene. I know Gene. I've got his number on my phone." An hour later she received a call from Eugene Pugaliese, and learned that he had never forgotten her.
"You've been on my wall for 25 years," he told her.
Gene, 75, remembers the day vividly. "I didn't even have gear on. I had a helmet and an axe," he told Daily News.
Since Deidre treats coronavirus patients, they have decided to meet up as soon as it is safe.
“I always knew I came close to losing my life that day,” Deirdre told CNN. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here. I had a second chance at life, thanks to him.”