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Deirdre Taylor can’t really recall the day Eugene Pugliese rescued her from a burning apartment, but he remembers everything.

In December 1983, Pugliese, then a firefighter in Manhattan, was inspecting water pipes when a man ran up to him and said there was a fire in a nearby building. He raced inside, rescuing a woman from her burning apartment. She told Pugliese her daughter was still inside, and he found 4-year-old Deirdre, unconscious. He revived the girl by giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and although he “didn’t see her ever again after that, I always wondered about her,” Pugliese told CNN.

Today, Taylor is a 40-year-old emergency room nurse living in Virginia. She also wondered what happened to Pugliese, and tried to track him down online, to no avail. “I had a second chance at life, thanks to him,” she said. During the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Taylor went to New York City to help treat patients, and asked a firefighter she met if he knew Eugene Pugliese. He didn’t, but a friend did, and that man shared Pugliese’s phone number with Taylor.

Pugliese, 75, told CNN he was “on cloud nine” when Taylor called. He was thrilled to hear from her, and to learn that she “turned out to be a remarkable woman with a magnificent life.” They quickly realized they had a lot in common, including being major Yankees fans, and when it’s safe to meet in person, they plan on going to a game together. Catherine Garcia

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