Empowering Communities

Local heroes save woman in distress

October 7, 2019

“Our day started as it normally does,” ComEd employee PJ McGrath said. “But right as our morning meeting ended, one of our construction workers, Michael Cardenas, rushed into the building and said a woman was about to jump off a parking garage down the street.”

A short time earlier, a contractor had approached another ComEd employee, Malcom Harrington, to alert him to the situation. Harrington then notified Cardenas and coworkers Greg Chudoba and Shea Cullen.

While Cardenas ran inside to alert McGrath, Chudoba and Cullen rushed to the scene. Cullen began to engage the woman in conversation, and Chudoba called 911. Cardenas and McGrath arrived shortly afterward.

“The young woman was shaking and clearly in distress,” McGrath said. “Cullen and I started talking and trying to connect with her until help arrived.”

At that point, other ComEd employees became aware of the situation and rushed over, including Victor Pope, his manager Les Cednick and coworker Gus Skaliotis.

Having been trained in the military for similar situations, Cednick instructed Skaliotis to head to the top of the parking garage and keep the woman talking until help arrived. Cednick and Pope stayed at the bottom to stop cars from entering the facility and to assist emergency personnel.

“Once I made it to the top, I called out to her,” Skaliotis said. “She told me not to get any closer, so I got on my knees and started talking to her.”

The woman told Skaliotis she was struggling with personal issues.

“I told her I understand where she’s coming from, and I understand how it feels to be at the end of your rope,” Skaliotis said. “At one point, it seemed like she was not going to listen.”

Meanwhile, Cednick and Pope were on the ground, preparing to catch the woman if needed. The fire department and police arrived at the scene.

“We couldn’t hear what was going on up top, but we could see her feet were about halfway over the ledge,” Cednick said. “I told Vic that we were going to get hurt if she jumped, and he replied with, I’m with you brother, I ain’t going nowhere.”

The situation ended when a firefighter grabbed the woman and pulled her off the ledge to safety.

“Some people run from danger, but my guys ran to it to help someone in need. I’m most proud of that,” Cednick said.