Meet Albert Mammon. You may already be familiar with his name because some of his good deeds were reported on TV, in newspapers, and on social media – where the stories went viral and comments under them numbered in the stratosphere. The fact that Mammon is unique – yeshiva-educated Bukharian Jewish cop currently serving as NYPD’s 60th Precinct Auxiliary Coordinator – may account for much of this interest. The fact that he’s a good cop (a 15-year upstanding veteran of the Department) and a good Jew most certainly accounts for the rest. But the mitzvot are in the details…
“Whoever saves one life saves the entire world” (Sanhedrin 4:1).
The Talmud explains that in the beginning, Adam was created alone – in essence rendering this first, solitary human being the sum total of the entire world population. It teaches us to look at every individual likewise, as if that person represents the whole world’s population – thus, saving one person saves an entire world.
On Sunday, February 22, 2015, while on vacation in Bal Harbour, Florida, Albert Mammon saved 17-year-old Christopher Tran from drowning in the ocean.
“I heard some screams coming from the direction of the water. I looked at my friend and said, ‘Do you hear that?’ He answered, ‘Yeah, it’s kids playing.’ My intuition told me it was more than that. Then I heard it again. I said, ‘This isn’t kids playing. This is a different sound. I’ve got to look into this.’ As I was looking, I heard the scream again, coming from the water. I saw somebody going down. He screamed again. I looked around to see if a lifeguard was coming. Then I realized there was no lifeguard on the beach.”
Mammon took immediate action, running to the water. Nobody else on the beach was rushing to the ocean at that point.
“While I was running, somebody yelled ‘Shark!’”
Mammon kept running despite the warning of increased danger. This is what cops do.
But then, while running, Mammon prayed. This is what yeshiva boys do.
“I said ‘God, if there’s a shark there, just have it go away or something. Make a miracle.’ Because I thought to myself, ‘I can’t stop now. I’m in full motion going in. God forbid someone’s drowning, I have no time to turn around.’ Then, when I hit the water, I just remember saying to myself, ‘I hope if it is, the shark did what it had to do and went on its way.’”
Luckily, no killer fish were circling. Even luckier, other men on the beach took note of the screaming victim thrashing around and Mammon, the first and only responder.
“As I was getting close to the person drowning, somebody came from another direction and actually got to the victim first. Then another person came and I got behind them. I was exhausted at this point because I had gone straight in and the tide was hitting me. Then a guy came with a surfboard – which actually became the life-saving force for everybody, not only for the kid, but for all of us. We were all struggling out there, in the middle of the ocean. I was yelling ‘Get the kid on the surfboard!’ The kid was coughing up water. I was hitting him on his back: ‘Are you all right?’”
They were approximately 50 feet from the shore with everybody kicking in different directions and getting nowhere. Mammon had to take charge.
“Long story, short, I coordinated the whole thing. I took charge of pushing the surfboard with every wave that came in. I kept pushing the board till we got to the shoreline.”