Earlier this week, on Tuesday, January 15th, a sergeant with the NYPD went above and beyond the call of duty when he saved a teenage boy on Manhattan Bridge.
Sgt. William Hart was passing by the Brooklyn end of the pedestrian walkway by chance that evening when he was flagged down by a group of people who had seen a child perched dangerously on the edge of the bridge. The 13-year-old boy, who has not been named, had climbed over the six-foot chain link fencing and was preparing himself to jump.
For most people, this would have been an incredibly daunting responsibility to take on. With more than 20 years of experience, however, Hart was ready for the task.
"I tried to engage him in conversation, and he didn’t really pay any attention to me," the sergeant said.
"He was very distraught. He was on the edge looking down. He was still over Brooklyn; he wasn’t over the water. He was looking straight down. It had to be maybe close to 100 feet."
Fortunately for the teen, Hart had a lot of experience with these sorts of situations, as he'd worked with the Emergency Services Unit of the police department for a decade. Instead of panicking, he remained calm, and approached the boy cautiously so as not to cause him to do anything abrupt.
"Between him and I was a 6-foot metal fence. I tried to engage him in conversation, and he didn’t really pay any attention to me," he said. "So I hopped up over the fence and he still didn’t really recognise I was there … I kind of took it in stages. He didn’t respond to my voice on the side of the fence. He didn’t respond to me as I was on top of the fence. So at that point, I decided I had to grab him, or else he was gonna go."
Once he had got a hold of the kid, "he became very compliant," Hart recalled. "He didn’t fight. He was starting to shiver."
Shortly after that, more police officers arrived, and the teenager was taken to hospital.
He reportedly stated that he had been trying to kill himself for two days, so Hart really did get to him in the nick of time. "My experience, it looked like he was going to jump," the sergeant said.
Hart continued: "I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to help him, because I just happened to be there. Who knows how long he would have sat there. I mean, it was cold. He was very upset. Had he jumped, it probably would have been fatal based on the height."
If it were not for the sergeant, then, this could have turned out to be a very different news story. In fact, the 13-year-old was the sixth person that Hart has saved from jumping to their death in his years with the NYPD, so his influence alone has had a massive impact.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, contact Your Life Your Voice on 1 800 448 3000, Samaritans on 116 123 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on 1 800 273 8255. For recorded information, call Mind on 0300 123 3393