‘He started to turn different colors’: Cops recall moment they saved life of Brooklyn straphanger

Marino Polo reunites with the cops who saved his life last month.
Photo by Dean Moses

Marino Polo remembers very little about the A train ride that almost took his life last month, but the cops who saved him say they recall every horrifying detail.

Polo suffered a medical episode while riding the Brooklyn train on Aug. 16. Nearly a month later, he had an emotional reunion with the officers who came between the straphanger and death.

The 67-year-old had just boarded the A train that fateful day when, at around noon, he collapsed at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station. Quick-thinking riders immediately alerted police, leading to a group of officers from Transit District 30 to leap into action.

“I was at the desk at the time,” Sergeant William Fincke told amNewYork Metro. “Officer [Renee] Thomas called me and said they were performing CPR. I asked her if she had an AED [Automated External Defibrillator], she said no, so I ensured an AED was brought to the scene.”

Cops administer CPR to 67-year-old Marino Polo. NYPD bodycam

The dramatic incident was caught on the cops’ body-worn cameras, footage from which shows responding officers performing chest compressions on the crowded train before also using the defibrillator to shock Polo. With every second meaning either life or death for Polo, the cops knew they had to act fast.

Police Officer Renee Thomas was one of the first on the scene and said she tried to remain calm and discern exactly what was happening before she took life-saving measures.

“At first, I had to try to analyze what was going on. And then I realized that it doesn’t look great. His breathing was very slow and kept going slower and slower. I was like you know what, we have to do CPR,” Officer Thomas recalled. “We laid him down, and he started to turn different colors and from there I knew something was wrong. We did chest compressions and we kept changing it out, and we were there for a while until we administered the shock, and we got him to breathe again. It was very scary.”

Marino Polo reunites with the cops who saved his life last month. Photo by Dean Moses
Marino Polo is whisked away to hospital. NYPD bodycam

While Polo was being whisked to a nearby hospital, Geralda, his partner for over a quarter of a century, said she was attempting to meet up with him and became stuck at another station several trains behind Polo, unaware the delays were caused by his medical emergency. Geralda grew worried when she repeatedly attempted to call him, but he didn’t answer. 

“I see the police calling me and calling me. They said, ‘Do you know Marino Polo?’, I said ‘Yes, he is my husband,’” Geralda said, tears welling. “They told me he was in Brooklyn Hospital.”

Geralda recounted that the doctors told her that Polo had technically died for a few moments due to a heart attack brought on by a seizure, but that he was brought back to life thanks to the officers’ swift actions. 

Marino Polo and Geralda, his partner for more than 25 years. Photo by Dean Moses
Marino Polo reunites with the cops who saved his life last month.Photo by Dean Moses

Polo says he can’t recall anything about the traumatic incident, aside from waking up in the hospital surrounded by Geralda and his son. Despite not remembering the moment himself, he told amNewYork Metro that he watched the body camera footage and owes the police officers his life, as does Geralda.

“Even a second — if they left it even a second, he was not going to be here, but thank God and thank them,” Geralda said when returning to the Hoyt-Schermerhorn station with Polo over the weekend.

The pair reunited with the officers in a warm, tearful embrace. Both Geralda and Polo profusely thanked the hero cops and hugged one another.

“He looks great,” Officer Thomas said. “He looks like a completely different person [than he did that day]. So, it’s really good.”

Marino Polo reunites with the cops who saved his life last month. Photo by Dean Moses