By Morgan Winsor and Kristina Sgueglia
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Talk about the catch of your life.
Fishermen hooked a senior citizen who was drowning near a New York pier Saturday, keeping the man above water and close to the pier long enough for rescuers to reach him, according to a fire department spokesperson.
"They played a major role in helping with this person's survival," FDNY spokesman Khalid Baylor told CNN. "It was a joint functional operation between uniform and civilians."
Shortly after noon, FDNY and NYPD officials jointly responded to reports of a man in Jamaica Bay at Brooklyn's Canarsie Pier, according to Baylor. They observed a male in his 60s unconscious and floating in the water, Baylor said.
Witnesses later told police they saw the victim sitting on the pier railing, then falling into the water, according to NYPD's Detective Michael DeBonis.
Civilians, who happened to be fishing at the pier and saw the man, were able to use a fishing gaff to hook his clothing, keeping the man from drifting away or sinking completely until officials were able to rescue him, Baylor said. A fishing gaff is a long pole with a hook used to haul in fish.
When officials reached the man in the water, he was unresponsive, not breathing and "turning blue," said DeBonis.
According to Baylor, FDNY personnel placed a sling over the victim in the water and swam him to an NYPD boat, where both firefighters and police performed rescue breathing, bringing back a pulse. Prior to being transported from the boat to land, the man began to breathe on his own, DeBonis said.
The victim was transported to Brookdale Hospital; he is expected to survive, authorities said Saturday.
The identities of the fishermen who helped save the man's life are unknown. Officials have not released the name of the victim.
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