Tuli Abraham and his wife Sarah were running two hours late for a baby shower on Sunday, March 30, 2019. As Tuli, a 30-year-old kosher caterer, sped along the Verrazano Narrow Bridge on his way into Brooklyn for the shower, a series of coincidences put him in the right place to save a man’s life.

Tuli and his wife Sarah

“There are so many things that happened in the space of a few moments,” Tuli explained in an Aish.com interview. “Without any one of these components I wouldn’t have been successful.”

It was raining hard and traffic was bad. The left lane that Tuli was taking to the upper level of the bridge was closed, and he was forced to move over several lanes to the right. That left Tuli and Sarah in the lane closest to the edge of the bridge, behind a car that suddenly stopped. The driver put on his hazards and exited his car. “If I was in the left lane I wouldn’t have thought anything of it,” Tuli recalls, saying that at first it seemed the driver was checking something wrong with his car.

Instead of going back into his car, the driver, an elderly man of about 79 according to later news reports, walked over to the railing at the edge of the bridge. As Tuli watched, the man stepped over the railing and balanced on the far side, at the very edge of the bridge and prepared to jump into the icy waters far below.

Tuli Abraham

Without stopping to think, Tuli raced out of his own car to the edge and grabbed the man’s jacket. The man shouted at Tuli that he should let him go, but Tuli hung on with all his might. As he concentrated on holding onto the man and preventing him from ending his life, Tuli wondered about his own safety. “It was raining and it was slippery,” he explains, and he hoped he wouldn’t slip and fall of the bridge with the man.

As precious moments ticked by and Tuli struggled with the man, countless people drove by in their cars, ignoring the scene and choosing not to help. Eventually a state trooper drove by and saw the scene. He too raced out of his car and grabbed the man’s clothes. Together he and Tuli tried to get a secure grip on the man and bring him back inside the railing. “The railing is about chest high, so it’s almost impossible to pull anybody up.” After a few minutes, another bystander came to help as well as emergency personnel. Together, the group of rescuers managed to drag the man back inside the railing; an ambulance took him to the hospital.

For Tuli, the encounter has profoundly changed the way he looks at the world. For days afterwards, he explains, he was “still shaking”. People have called him a hero, but he doesn’t think of himself that way. “I did what anybody would have done,” Tuli explains. He didn’t ask for the publicity and accolades he’s received. “I want to move on and want to continue being me without attention.”

“I learned that it doesn’t matter where you are and what your background is, everybody would try and make a difference,” Tuli said. He also cautions that no matter how people react, they should recognize that they did the best they felt they could. People second guess their actions and “beat themselves up afterwards” Tuli notes. Instead, we should be kinder to ourselves and acknowledge that in a moment of emergency it’s not always easy to know what to do. “At the end of the day you did your best.”

On the Bridge

Pointing to the series of coincidences that put him in the right place at the right time, Tuli feels that he was placed in that situation, on the bridge, for a reason. Judaism teaches that there is no such thing as a coincidence: everything that happens is part of a larger plan and has a purpose. In Hebrew this is known as Hashgachah Pratis, or Divine Providence, recognizing that a series of seemingly random twists of fate can lead us to the very purpose we are meant to fulfill in our lives.

When he considers all the different components of that day on the bridge – the fact that he was forced into the right lane, that he was running late and wound up behind the suicidal driver, that he was helped by passersby just as he needed it, that he somehow found the strength to hold on to the man without slipping or losing his grip – Tuli feels he was part of a larger plan that day. He strongly feels he witnessed “the hand of God” putting him in the exact position necessary to do what he could to help a fellow human being and save his life.