AGAWAM – When Antonio Bruno fell more than 60 feet into a Southwick quarry while hiking with friends, his girlfriend Sydney Bryden did not hesitate. She climbed in after him.
Bruno’s mom Nora said she remembered seeing Bryden’s bruised feet while they waited at the hospital on that July afternoon. She had climbed into the quarry barefoot but didn’t “brag or boast,” Nora said. Bryden never made it about herself, she said. She just did what needed to be done.
Bryden was honored for her heroic actions, which led to the rescue of Bruno by Mayor Richard Cohen on Oct. 15. Bryden’s family and friends, as well as the Bruno family joined her as Cohen presented her with a certificate of heroism.
“It’s very important that you know that what you did went above and beyond to help and save somebody in need,” Cohen said. “For that, we thank you.”
Bryden said she was humbled by the support and love she has received.
“I don’t know how to put it into words. It’s an honor,” she said. “It’s nice that everybody is reaching out to me for something like that.”
When Bruno fell, Bryden made the steep climb down while her friends made the call to report the accident. Bryden remained in the quarry with Bruno, helping to keep him calm and balanced as emergency responders worked to get him out, according to Bruno’s mother.
“I was shocked, but it was an instinct just to help him,” Bryden said.
Nora said she could not be more thankful for Bryden’s actions that day and since the incident. She said Bryden drove to the rehab facility in Boston regularly and organized a capital campaign on the crowd funding website GoFundMe.com, which raised $2,575.
“She stopped his bleeding with her shirt and kept him calm, but she never told any of that to me. She just did it out of love,” Nora said. “She was with me every single day. Teenagers are supposed to be all about themselves. She never made it about her and never shined to the light on herself.”
Despite her own humility, Cohen repeatedly called her a hero who was worthy of the recognition.
“Your exemplary acts of kindness showed compassion, composure and leadership,” Cohen said. “Heroism is defined as actions exhibiting courage and self-sacrifice, which you displayed without any hesitation, playing an essential role in this emergency situation.”