Frontline Nurse Reconnects with Firefighter Who Saved Her Life 37 Years Ago

May 29, 2020

Heroes meeting heroes.

A nurse working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic finally reunited with the NYC firefighter who pulled her out of a burning building nearly forty years ago.

When Deirdre Taylor, a Virginia-based nurse, traveled to New York to help treat COVID-19 patients, she went with the hopes of tracking down the fireman who saved her life when she was just four years old.

Back in 1983, Taylor made the front page of the newspaper alongside Eugene Pugliese, the FDNY member who rescued her from a burning Manhattan apartment building.

"I always knew I came close to losing my life that day," Taylor told CNN. "Without him, I wouldn't be here. I had a second chance at life, thanks to him."

While her previous online searches turned up empty, the 40-year-old mother of two brought the newspaper article to New York in case she finally got a chance to connect with Pugliese.

“I didn’t know if he was still alive, particularly after Sept. 11,” Taylor told the NY Daily News. "Part of me thought I waited too long to track him down.”

But during one of her long shifts at NYU Langone Hospital in Brooklyn, she relayed her story to a FDNY captain, who, as luck would have it, previously worked with Pugliese.

“He said, ‘Oh, Gene. I know Gene. I’ve got his number in my phone,’” Taylor recounted to the outlet. "I didn’t think I was going to be able to track him down.”

After 37 years, Taylor finally spoke to Pugliese on the phone and thanked him for saving her life.

"The two of us just sat there crying on the phone," the 75-year-old retired firefighter told CNN.

As it turns out, Pugliese had the same newspaper article framed at his home.

“You’ve been on my wall for 25 years,” Pugliese told Taylor.

While the pair have yet to meet in person, they hope to bond over their shared love for the New York Yankees once it is safe.

"I hope to meet her soon, maybe later this summer," Pugliese said. "I'd love to meet her two children and go to a Yankees game together."

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