CHARLOTTE, N.C. - August 2nd at 6:48 pm an urgent situation. A man was threatening to jump off the Harrisburg Rd. bridge over I-485 in the middle of the evening commute to commit suicide.
“This gentleman was just looking over the bridge,” said Maria Botello, who was on her way home from work at Wells Fargo. “You know I had that weird little feeling and decided to go back.”
And so did Eric Torres. He was on his way to get ice cream at the grocery store for his kids when he saw the commotion and flipped his car around, feeling like it was his calling to go help.
“When I came around the SUV that was obstructing my view, I noticed the two officers holding on to the wrists of the individual who was dangling off of 485," he said.
CMPD Officers Daniel McCooey and Evan Seymour were fighting to hold on to the man to keep him from falling into the busy freeway below.
Instincts took over for Torres who works at Atrium Health in University City.
“Once I grabbed him and it seemed like it took an eternity to grab his waist.. I was able to with my right hand grab his chin.. and I wanted him to focus on me the whole time."
The five individuals worked together for several minutes, intense minutes to prevent this person from falling, said Lt. Koch as he presented Torres, Botello, Officers McCooey and Seymour and another person who wasn’t present with the Life Saving Award from CMPD.
“I gave him some encouraging words, with my mother my grandmother passing away and using that as a catalyst to kind of get him to engage with me,” said Torres.
Tensions were starting to ratchet up and Torres was starting to lose his grip.
“At that point I looked at the officer and officer was calm cool and collected.. you could see the concern on his face but not once did he falter or anything, the objective was just do this."
Sensing that time was running out, they all gave one big heave ho and brought the distraught man over the guard rail to safety. An ambulance took him to the hospital.
How does it feel to save a life? I ask Botello; “it’s a strange feeling to think that you helped somebody all I can hope for is that he’s doing great that he finds his way and hopefully gets the help that he needs.”
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.