Around 1 a.m. on April 24, semi-truck drivers in the Oak Park area of Michigan received a distress call from area police: An unidentified man was standing on the edge of a local bridge, apparently ready to jump onto the freeway below.
Those drivers then did something amazing. They raced to the scene to help — and lined up their trucks under the bridge, providing a relatively safe landing space should the man jump.
Fortunately, he didn't.
The impressive line-up wasn't a coincidence — the drivers were prepared for exactly this sort of situation.
Sgt. Jason Brockdorff of the Huntington Woods Police Department told The Detroit News that the response was something local police and truck drivers had actually trained for. But what was unusual was the sheer number of drivers who responded to the call.
"That's a practice we use if we have a jumper," Brockdorff said. "We try to do it every time, to lessen the distance someone would travel if they were to jump. Fortunately, that didn't happen."
The incident lasted nearly four hours, into the early morning. However, once the trucks were in place, the police were able to more comfortably negotiate with the unidentified man.
Eventually, the man walked off the bridge on his own and is currently receiving medical help.
In a pair of tweets, the local police department called attention to the incident to remind people in similar situations of the importance of seeking mental health services (emphasis mine):
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.
You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911. There are so many people that can help you make the choice to get help and live! It is our hope to never see another photo like this again.
Working together, the police and everyday strangers saved a life.
Ordinary people heeded the call of service to help a fellow person who was struggling. It's a powerful image that's impossible to ignore, and a reminder of humanity at its best.