By on April 25, 2018

696 overpass suicide_1524577610707.jpg_5393146_ver1.0_640_360

Michigan State Police, along with a baker’s dozen of truckers and a couple of suburban police departments, came up with a clever solution to avert a suicide early Tuesday morning. Some time around 1:00 a.m., police received a report of a man getting ready to jump off the overpass where I-696 runs under Coolidge Hwy, just a couple of miles north of Detroit. He had either climbed over or around the protective fence and was standing on the top of the bridge’s side barrier, above eastbound traffic, near the median.

There happens to be a Michigan State Police post just a half mile away, so response was both quick and massive. While negotiators from the MSP, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods PDs talked to the man, the state police began shutting down eastbound traffic on the interstate highway. Well, they didn’t shut down traffic entirely. While cars and light trucks were rerouted off the freeway, about a half dozen tractor-trailer rigs were let through to the overpass, where police directed them to line up closely, side-by-side, directly under the bridge. The idea was to shorten the fall if the man decided to go ahead and jump. The same was done on the westbound side of the overpass. A total of 14 truckers apparently volunteered to help save the man’s life, though only 13 fit under the bridge.

(The image has been blurred where the man was standing on the ledge of the overpass.)

That overpass happens to be about a mile from my home. I drive over it or under it just about daily. From the ledge where the man stood, it’s about a 30-foot drop to the concrete pavement below, enough to cause a serious injury, or even death. Semi trailers are about 13.5 feet tall, so stationing them under the overpass would have just about cut the fall in half, significantly reducing the chance of serious injury.

Police negotiators from the three departments talked to the man for hours, finally convincing him to accompany them to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. I-696 was reopened to traffic around 4:00 a.m.

If you or a loved one are feeling depressed or suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to everyone. It can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741.

[Images: Michigan State Police]

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18 Comments on “Michigan State Troopers Call on Truckers to Avert a Suicide...”


  • avatar
    mikey

    Sometimes when we can put all of our differences behind us and pull in the same direction, it turns into a win win result. Good call from the State Police, and the cooperation with the other PDs. Kudos to the truckers, and the trucking firms. I worked in the J.IT. shipping/receiving world, believe me ” hours” is a long time to tie up a rig loaded or not..

    The coordination and all the work paid off . A life was saved. I hope the guy gets the counselling he needs.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    A big hearty congratulations to the State police for thinking up a creative solution like this so quickly. (And of course, a thank you for the Truckers that donated their valuable road-time to help.)

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Has Hollywood remade Convoy yet?

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Rubber Duck immediately came to mind.

      – – –

      Not to get overly graphic, but Ronnie is right to note “enough to cause a serious injury, or even death.” I had a friend who fell from a similar height onto a hard surface–accident, not a suicide attempt–and it left him alive but in a pretty terrible state (coma, then severely disabled; he later died). Jumping from a highway overpass is a good way to injure yourself badly; it’s a terrible way to try to commit suicide. I hope the person in question gets help; these are tough times for a lot of people.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        I read a story somewhere about a guy who was working in the attic of a McMansion with a two story entranceway and he fell through the sheetrock to the floor ~20′ below. Really messed him up. A friend works for OSHA and he has told me even short falls are no joke.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          On-topic, I once fainted in front of the check-in desk at an ER. (I had really bad tonsillitis, to the point that I no longer could swallow. I knew I’d reached a point of being dangerously dehydrated.)

          This was at a busy teaching hospital in a major city, and one of the doctors told me, “People actually fake that to get seen sooner. We knew you weren’t faking when we saw your head bounce off the floor.”

          I actually was annoyed that they were so concerned with my fall, far more so than with my sore throat. They were right, of course. When Natasha Richardson died a couple of years later, I was like, “OK, now I’m really glad they ran tests to rule out a serious brain injury.” (As it was, I was concussed to the point that I vomited the next day. Good times.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        As a rule of thumb, 20 feet and less is considered survivable (assuming you don’t land on your head).

    • 0 avatar
      kcflyer

      Don’t know how easy it is to find a chartreuse microbus these days.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Scenario 1 – dude jumps and dies.
    Outcome: Workers wash off the blood, guy gets the burial. Done

    Scenario 2 – dude is saved.
    Outcome: the guy gets to consume antidepressants and sedatives for the rest of his life. Still dies and gets the burial

    I think, the only beneficiaries are [again] corporations that will sell him meds, food, clothing, etc.

    On another note, aren’t the roofs of those trailers pretty weak and would break if he jumped? He could crush my crackers!

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Have you experienced a suicide in your family? I have (a brother). Suicide affects the dead person’s family, and sometimes causes other suicides within the family. The hope is that the person can get counseling and treatment, and can get past whatever prompted them to think about or attempt suicide. It doesn’t necessarily mean a lifetime of medication.

      Also, a longtime friend of my wife’s died just this way (jumping to her death from a highway bridge, and being run over by multiple vehicles) last year. My wife still wishes she could have done more; she got a goodbye call from the woman’s cell phone, just before she jumped. She didn’t hang up her phone – instead, she left the phone in her car, on the bridge, with the line open. First was a few minutes of silence, followed by the sound of the sirens of emergency vehicles (a fire truck, heading to another accident scene witnessed her jump, and made a report). Very sad.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        In fact, I have had suicide in the family. And 2, considering super-extended family. But I am a soldier. I bury and carry on. My view on life may be unorthodox. This doesn’t change the fact that suicidal people usually fighting daily, minutely internal fight. They suffer great deal. To me, this, as nearly everything else, has to come down to personal decision.
        On the other hand, if this dude WANTED to commit suicide, he would just jump and not negotiate. Pretender. I feel, this is the case when guy needed attention more than anything else. All the people who I know, those who committed one, they did it quiet, not telling anyone. In fact, one guy just jumped off the water tower, and nobody knew until dead body appeared on the floor.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @slavuta – the vast majority of suicide attempts are impulsive decisions therefore any delay in “thought to action” improves outcome. 80% of survivors will NOT try again. That is why easy access to firearms increase suicide deaths since you can’t change your mind once the trigger is pulled. The same applies to murder. Statistically only 9% of murders involving women are carried out by strangers.The majority are “crimes of passion” like suicide. Any time you delay “thought to action”, outcomes improve either way.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      slavuta, I can see your viewpoint, but it’s defeatist.

      As the old story goes, a man is walking down the beach and comes across thousands of washed up starfish. A little boy is grabbing the starfish and throwing them back in the water. The man says, “Why are you doing that? You can’t save them all. What you’re doing doesn’t matter.”

      The boy continues, saying, “It matters to this one… and this one…”

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Erikstrawn

        Obviously, this is gray area and many opinions exist.
        I wish, politicians would commit suicide often. In the good old days, when clean name meant more than life, when people went to duel for the name alone. Politician’s lie become public – suicide. That would be dream scenario.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    scenario #3 dude jumps anyways between the trucks (me thinks if he really wanted to do it he could have!) also people die every day from short falls to any hard surface, even in a bath tub! Mel Gibson in Leathel Weapon, grabbing the man and jumping off a building with him “you think i wanna die?” says detective Griggs, he then handcuffs the guy to himself then says “do you really want to jump? lets do it!” AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! “your crazy ,he tried to kill me”says the wanna be attention grabber jumper!

  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    I really love this story. Yes, the dude needs help, but the cops and truckers wrapped him in a big hug saying….don’t do this…and he lived. Also, when I saw it was in Detroit, I thought….I wonder if Ronnie will give us a post on this?

    Thanks, Ronnie.

  • avatar
    spamvw

    Besides stopping the possible suicide, they got folks off the road. My biggest fear when I was a trucker was killing someone, we’ve had some jumpers here, at night, and I don’t want to think about hitting the body at 70 MPH, before you knew was happening. I guess train engineers have to deal with this too.


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