Bulletproof Vest Saves NYPD Father And Son 27 Years Apart

A bulletproof vest is responsible for saving the life of a father and son 27 years apart.

On June 21, 1989, Paul Yurkiw, a retired NYPD detective, was driving on the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens, after leaving Brooklyn. While driving, Paul noticed a vehicle sitting on the side of the road, and stopped to see if the driver needed any assistance. What he thought was a good deed turned out to be his worst nightmare. Inside the vehicle wasn’t a driver in distress, but rather a felon on parole from New Jersey state prison who had stopped to count his narcotics. As Paul approached the vehicle, the man pulled a gun and shot him three times in the chest with a.38 caliber handgun. Luckily, Paul was wearing a 10-ply police vest that saved him from the impact of the bullets. Never in a million years did Paul think a similar incident would happen to his son.

On Saturday, February 20, Paul received a phone call that no father wants to receive. His son, Officer Andrew Yurkiw, had been shot in Brooklyn with a.357 magnum gun. The only positive detail about the call was that Andrew’s 20-ply bulletproof police vest saved his life, just as it had his father’s 27 years earlier. Following the devastating phone call, an NYPD highway car drove Paul to the Kings County Hospital from his home in Nassau County so he could be with his son.

“It’s like I’m going through this all over again,” Paul Yurkiw told the New York Daily News. “He’s good. He’s resting comfortably.”

Paul said the suspect who shot Andrew “came out shooting” in the darkness after a car chase through Bedford-Stuyvesant. Andrew, who married his wife last year and has been with the police department for four years, is lucky to be alive. According to Paul, without the bulletproof vest, Andrew probably wouldn’t have survived. He said, “I was just happy to see he was coherent and alert.”

“He’s got a bruise the size of a grapefruit on his chest,” Paul told PIX11 Investigates. “A.357 magnum is a devastating round. The penetration power is incredible. A few inches either way, it could have been a different story.”

Andrew, who works at the 81st Precinct as a plainclothes officer in the anti-crime unit, was released from the hospital on Saturday, and is currently home resting. Paul said Andrew is a “big kid and he’s in good shape,” but was worried about his partner who was also shot during the Saturday shootout.

“Thank God his partner is going to be OK,” Yurkiw said. “This is the best we can hope for. It’s possible they saved other officers’ lives.”

Paul credits the bulletproof vests for saving both his and his son’s life. Without them, he says, neither of them would be here today.

“Without the vest, me or (my son) and a lot of other police officers wouldn’t be walking on this planet right now,” said Yurkiw. “Thank God for his vest. We don’t know what happened, we didn’t have much of a conversation, but he’s doing good.”

“You don’t plan to get into a gunfight when you go to work,” Yurkiw added. “This is a reality check.”

[Photo via Shutterstock]