A combination of Good Samaritans, training and instinct kicked in to save a life late in the morning of Feb. 26.
The remarkable incident began to unfold when motorists driving along Baker’s Bridge Avenue saw a man abruptly stop his vehicle on the road, right where the bridge crosses Interstate 65, exit his car and climb over the bridge railing.
He perched himself on a narrow ledge about 24 feet above the interstate below when four quick-thinking individuals — three women and one man — rushed to stop the distraught man from jumping as others nearby called 911.
Franklin Police Sgt. David Mullins happened to be at the intersection of Mallory Lane and Baker’s Bridge Avenue when the call came over the radio. He rushed to the scene, where he ob-served traffic backed up and people standing outside of their vehicles. He also saw the Good Sa-maritans holding the man’s arms and trying to prevent him from jumping.
As he approached the scene, it appeared the small group had calmed the man.
“It looked like a group hug,” Mullins said. “I thought I was going to be able to talk him off the bridge. I was wrong.”
According to Mullins, the man had his toes on the lip of the bridge and the Good Samaritans were holding on to him, talking to him and urging him to return to the other side.
Mullins took the man’s right arm.
“He wasn’t crying for help, he really wanted to die, and he was gathering his nerve,” Mullins said. “He was so broken he couldn’t articulate the problem.”
Mullins used a move he learned in an advanced martial arts class. He took the man’s hand, pressed on the crease of his wrist, making it bend downward under the rail, and held it there using the man’s weak direction of movement against Mullins’ strong direction of movement.
For about four minutes the man continued talking about jumping and crying with his eyes closed. Then he opened his eyes and saw Mullins’ badge.
“He started screaming, ‘I can’t go to jail.’ and kicked off the edge,” Mullins said.
Suddenly, Mullins had a 6-foot-5-inch, 270-pound man dangling by an arm and struggling to break free and two civilians holding onto his shirt. There simply was not enough manpower to pull the suicidal man back over the rail.
About three minutes later, Officer Elizabeth Teeples showed up. She was off-duty but heard the call and showed up anyway, Mullins said.
Right behind her were two firefighters and Lt. Charles Warner, who was on his way to lunch when the call went out.
“The professionals started to show up,” Mullins said.
The firefighters — Michael Henry and Brad Engle — ran to the rail to assist Mullins while Teeples and Warner took over for the civilians.
It took three officers and two firefighters to pull the man over the rail. All the while he contin-ued to struggle even after they got him on the ground. EMS personnel had to sedate him before transporting him to the hospital, Mullins said.
“Many hands make light work,” Warner said. “When I pulled up, I saw Sgt. Mullins, civilians and firefighters and realized the guy was dangling from the bridge. It was an impactful, surreal moment.”
First responders see people on their worst days. This was that man’s worst day.
“He was one of the most distressed individuals I’ve ever seen,” Mullins said. “(Civilians, officers and firefighters) who put a hand on him took a risk and nobody quit. I don’t know if you would get that in any other city. People stopped and got out of their cars — not to talk, to help.”
Warner added that he didn’t see anyone on a cellphone recording video.
“Everyone’s hands were engaged and involved,” he added. That says a lot about the community we live in.”
Carole Robinson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org