Cry for help in New Jersey answered by SAPD officers

Cry for help answered by four S.A. officers

SAN ANTONIO -- A group of San Antonio police officers answered a call for help thousands of miles away, and they may have saved a life without realizing it.

Thomas McWain, an officer with the West Deptford Township Police Department in New Jersey, had a close friend who missed her flight to go to a rehab center in Florida. She's a struggling heroin and prescription pill addict.

"I booked it at 8:15 in the morning, and in true addiction fashion, she missed her flight. She was sent on standby for a different flight later. That flight was full. There was another standby flight, but that was full," said McWain.

McWain was concerned she was going to give up and leave the airport. McWain said it took him several years to convince her to go to rehab. When he talked to her on the phone at the airport, she was hungry and going through withdrawals.

“I’m in New Jersey. There was absolutely nothing that I could do for her in San Antonio. So if she chose to leave there was nothing that I could have done to stop her,” said McWain.

McWain said he called the San Antonio International Airport and posted a plea for help on a law enforcement Facebook page. McWain needed someone to find her, give her food and make sure she stayed at the airport. 

SAPD lieutenant Efrain Gonzalez said Captain Joseph Salvaggio saw a screen shot of the Facebook post first.

"He looked over at me, handed me his phone and said: What would you do? Then he got up and walked off.  By the time I gotten through reading that, he got a bag of food," said Gonzalez.

As Gonzalez and another captain, Paul Biasiolli, went to go find her, they ran into officer Dwight Levy who also had food in his hands. Levy had talked to McWain on the phone. The officers found McWain's friend and made sure she made her flight out.

"We're going to take care of the public and try to help however we can. The individual who reached out to us explained his situation. It's something that we can definitely relate to, and we wanted to help out however we could," said Biasiolli.

"I feel happy. I mean, I was happy I was able to help her out. Hopefully she can get the help she needs," said Levy.

McWain said his friend's view of officers completely changed after her experience.

"As a police officer myself. I know that it's easy to ignore a simple request like bringing someone something to eat or giving someone a couple of dollars. It's easy to ignore the request either as a matter of policy or procedure," said McWain. "This honestly means the rest of her life could be different. It could be changed. If she wouldn't have gone on that airplane, who knows what would have happened?"

McWain was so appreciative of the officers' generosity, he sent a letter of appreciation to the mayor of San Antonio.

(© 2016 KENS)


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