COLLEGE PARK, GA – Two quick-thinking Georgia police officers and a civilian recently pulled a distraught man to safety from an overpass after the man had threatened to jump onto the interstate below.
Two officers from the College Park Police Department in Fulton County, south of Atlanta, responded to several 911 calls July 17 from motorists who saw the man on the bridge and feared he would take his own life.
Lt. Cody Smith and his partner, Officer Larry Stalling, responded to a man in distress on the overpass at Airport Boulevard overlooking I-85 near Atlanta’s airport. https://t.co/vQP7h3zOZC
— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) July 22, 2022
Once they arrived, they saw the man sitting on the ledge of the Interstate 85 overpass not far from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The officers said a passing motorist stopped to help and the three spoke with the man, who would not leave the ledge. Eventually, the two officers pulled the man off the ledge and onto the shoulder, preventing him from jumping. They noted that those actions at the very least spared him from catastrophic injury and likely saved his life.
FOX 5’s Christopher King spoke with the heroic officers, Lt. Cody Smith and his partner, Officer Larry Stalling. Smith said:
“He’s on top of the bridge with his legs over the edge of the bridge. He was just making indications he wanted to harm himself.”
Smith said of the 911 callers:
“They felt he was contemplating suicide.”
The pair of police officers tried to talk the man down but he could not be persuaded. Smith added:
“He was looking over to see if the vehicles were coming and for a place to jump. [I thought,] we need to save this guy.”
Police shut down the highway below and Smith, his partner and the civilian who did not give his name launched into action. Smith explained:
“Grabbed onto him, used our weight to pull him down and pull him off the bridge. We got him down to the ground and he was still set on jumping off the bridge.”
They pulled him off the bridge to safety and an ambulance took him to a hospital for a psychological evaluation.
Of the man’s intentions, Smith said:
“He certainly could have died.”
Smith said he is grateful that he, his partner and the good Samaritan could rescue a man at his lowest moment from a dire fate. He said:
“I don’t know what he’s going through, but we need to save him. My heart goes out to him.”
The College Park Police Department issued a public thank you to the passing motorist for his assistance.
This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public. But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life. Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. pic.twitter.com/RBAlCIXT1o
— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) April 24, 2018
The nation’s bridges and overpasses are all too often used by people who have decided to end their lives. But there is also an abundance of uplifting stories of strangers banding together, with police and other first responders, to listen to those who have chosen such a public suicide. Seeing such a desperate incident prompts some to try to help. Extraordinary measures are taken, schedules tossed aside and hearts opened as other vehicles speed by the scene.
An especially remarkable rescue occurred four years ago, on April 24, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan, when 13 semitractor-trailers lined up together under an overpass after a suicidal man threatened to jump, according to Michigan State Police. The truck drivers stayed there for three hours until authorities could get the man down.
The collective act of compassion was captured in a photo that was tweeted by the MSP with the caption:
“This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public. But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life. Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.”
The incident prompted closures of east and westbound Interstate 696 for several hours.
Once again, we want to thank these truck drivers, who lined up their rigs on the Turnpike under the overpass while OPD Crisis Team members worked to successfully talk the man down safely. pic.twitter.com/hSEbw17D3y
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) August 28, 2018
Just four months later, a similar incident took place on a section of Florida’s Turnpike that cuts through Orlando.
On Aug. 29, 2018, truck drivers banded together to help prevent a man from jumping off an overpass onto the busy highway below.
The truckers strategically parked their rigs to reduce the chances of the man jumping all the way to the roadway while officers negotiated with the individual.
According to Orlando police, the man climbed over the fence on South Kirkman Road at Conroy Road before 1 p.m. After about an hour of talking, the man agreed to come off the bridge and the roadways were reopened, police said.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Erie County Deputy pulls jumper to safety from second-story window
February 6, 2019
SANDUSKY, OH – An Erie County Sheriff’s deputy didn’t worry about his own safety when he climbed out a second story window to help rescue a man who wanted to commit suicide.
Deputy Ben Cooper said:
“My main concern was trying to save his life. I didn’t want him to get hurt.”
The 25-year-old deputy along with Deputy Dan Vladiff were sent to a home Sunday for an intoxicated male who was threatening to kill himself, reported Fox 8 Cleveland.
When the officers initially arrived at the home, they were unable to locate the desperate man in the house. After a few minutes, Vladiff kicked open a door to an upstairs room. Cooper told FOX 8:
“He saw him jumping out the window to the garage-level roof.”
Vladiff ran downstairs and out to the front lawn. Body camera video shows the deputy trying to talk to the man. Vladiff can be heard saying on the video:
“I want to get you help, that’s it.”
In the meantime, Cooper made the decision to climb out the window and try to get the man off the roof. Cooper said:
“I got this job because I want to help people and that’s what I intended to do.”
The body camera video shows Cooper as he gets to the roof of the garage, then climbs to the very top of the house. The man can be heard saying:
“It’s time to go.”
“I knew then I had to act right away.”
The deputy grabbed the man, pulled him back and got him restrained away from the roofline. With help from the other deputies and the man’s family, they were able to get him to a position of safety. Afterward, he was taken to the hospital.
Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said he is extremely proud of Vladiff’s and Cooper’s actions.
Sheriff Sigsworth said:
“They both did an absolutely incredible job.
“Our deputies and law enforcement officers all over the area are very intent on trying to prevent anything like this from happening. This is not something the general public sees everyday or thinks that is what law enforcement officers do, but that’s exactly what law enforcement officers do. They try to prevent people from hurting themselves or someone else.”
Cooper said he is relieved the man is all right. He said:
“I know people go through tough times and life can be hard. But things change. There are so many people that care. There are always people there for you.”
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.