People Staff
January 06, 1986 12:00 PM

I have a guardian angel named Joe,” says Boston fireman Walter McGinn. “He’s always watching out for me, always there.” The fire fighter was praying Joe was with him two weeks ago as he tumbled 40 feet from a highway overpass while trying to save suicide-jumper William Dolan. The men plummeted into an outstretched safety net, but McGinn and four of the nine firemen holding the net suffered minor injuries. “I’m not a hero,” says McGinn, 35. “The true heroes are those guys who held the net, seeing two guys coming down from 40 feet. They saved my life.”

When McGinn and his fellow firemen arrived on the scene, Dolan, 28, a troubled man from Boston’s North End, was threatening to jump from a guard railing on the city’s busy Central Artery. McGinn flashed back to 1975 when, as a rookie fire fighter, he had risked his life and earned a citation for bravery by grabbing a man trying to leap from a six-story building. When Dolan—reportedly a user of the drug PCP—started to sway, McGinn went for him. “I didn’t let go because I didn’t want him to fall,” says McGinn. “I made my commitment and I was going to stick to it. You know, luck of the Irish.”

McGinn swears he’s not going to lunge after any more would-be suicides. He wants to be around for his wife, Nancy, and his 1-year-old son, Richard. “I’ve already had two strikes and survived both,” he says. “Three strikes and you’re out. I’ve exceeded my luck.”

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