"What kept me alive is that he held my hand," Mrs. Gerney said of Detective Ragonese.
"She is the bravest man or the bravest woman I have ever met," said the detective at the time.
"There is a point where a lot of people would have given up," Ragonese said on the phone this week. “She had a strong belief in God. The only thing she worried about was her children. She wanted her to know that her mother loved her. "
The consequences of the accident were headlines for more than a year. The construction company and the builder were convicted of bodily harm and endangerment. The foreman was fined $ 5,000 and given five years probation. The unlicensed crane operator, whom the foreman had been ordered to take over after the departure of the regular crane operator, pleaded guilty to second degree assault and, after Mrs. Gerney's pity, was spared jail time.
In 1988, Ms. Gerney was awarded $ 10 million in damages, payable in monthly installments.
Brigitte Risch was born on March 14, 1936 in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, as the second of eight children of the physician and MP Dr. Martin Risch and the housewife Josephine Risch were born.
After graduating from high school, Brigitte attended the secretarial school in Switzerland and worked as a secretary for a Russian emigrated businessman. In 1966 she married Arkadi Gerney, the son of her boss and sales representative at Blaw-Knox, a manufacturer of paving machines. They moved to New York, where he lived.
Her son led the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition for New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and wrote for The New Yorker about the shooting of his mother's fiancé, Dr. Peter Rizzo.
"My mother was 50 when Peter was murdered," wrote Gerney. “She never married again. She never dated again. "