Have you ever imagined what you’d do if you had to talk someone down off a ledge, literally? One middle school volleyball team had that very experience. It turned into one they’d never forget — and one that saved a woman’s life.
Some boys from Kepler Neighborhood School in Fresno were having practice on Saturday.
They started off the day with a run to warm up. The route happened to take them past a bridge.
There, they saw a heart-stopping sight: a woman dangling from the bridge. She was holding on by just her arms. Meanwhile, her feet hung above a 100-foot drop.
For a moment, the team wasn’t sure what was going on.
Then it clicked.
“I realized what was going on when her foot started dangling,” said Joshua Velasquez. “Then after that, we all ran down as a team to go tell our coach.”
It was all hands on deck when the coach, Murray Elliott, heard what was going on. He immediately dialed 911. Meanwhile, he instructed the boys to go back to the bridge.
“I said immediately, ‘Go back up and get her attention. Tell her that her life matters’,” he said.
So, for a whole 10 minutes or so, they didn’t stop yelling, screaming, and telling her, “Your life matters.” Her feet were off the ground and she was holding herself up only by her arms. And it’s not like she was holding onto a rail. She’s holding onto concrete. That’s it. It was scary.
Finally, the woman started trying to pull herself back up onto the bridge. She was struggling to swing her body up to safety. However, she managed to get back on solid ground, where police officers were waiting to help her.
Authorities later confirmed the 47-year-old woman was considering suicide.
She was able to get support.
“She took a glance and hearing those kids, it registered to her, ‘I can’t do this in front of them’,” said Murray.
Police called the boys heroes for stepping in and helping until they arrived.
In fact, they said Murray and the team did exactly what they were supposed to do. They stayed with the woman on the bridge and continued to talk to her. Meanwhile, someone contacted authorities.
Suicide is a serious problem, not only in the United States but also in every other part of the world.
In the U.S., it’s the 10th leading cause of death. In 2017, there were about 1.4 million suicide attempts around the country.
Thanks to the boys who thought fast, the frightened woman on the bridge wasn’t one of them.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment,” said student Elijah Gomez. “And then what was best about it is, I know we saved the woman’s life but I’m proud that I was able to do it with my brothers.”
They certainly proved their bond that day in more ways than one.
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