Just after midnight on April 24th, police in the Oak Park area of Michigan became aware of an unidentified man teetering on the edge of a bridge that spanned the I-696 Freeway. Among the precautionary measures taken by the police is one that may surprise you: a distress call put out to drivers of semi trucks in the area, with a request to line up under the bridge to form a makeshift landing area in case the man decided to jump. It was not long before 13 trucks had arrived and been moved into position underneath the full breadth of the bridge.
In the end, the man did not jump. Around 4 a.m. he eventually walked off the bridge on his own, and police were there to escort him to Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak.
This remarkable feat should not be understood as a spur-of-the-moment brainstorm or otherwise a coincidence of circumstance. As Sgt. Jason Brockdorff of the Huntington Woods Police Department told The Detroit News, the response was something local police and truck drivers had actually trained for.
“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.” With the trucks in place, it became easier for the police to safely engage the man in conversation. For those on the scene, it was the sheer number of participating drivers and the speed with which their safety net was assembled that was noteworthy.
We will never know if the response of these truck drivers actually saved this man’s life. What we can perhaps imagine, though, is the way that a troubled man who is considering jumping off a bridge might be impacted by the arrival of a cavalry of trucks sliding under the bridge.
In some cases, it might not even be noticed. But in others, the gesture itself might remedy the situation. Imagine if a person, feeling alone and unloved, realizes that a host of strangers have all congregated beneath to support him and show him he is not alone. Might that in itself be enough for a person to decide to take themselves out of harm’s way?
Part Of Our Awakening
We don’t have to answer this question to know that these 13 truck drivers took actions that we are proud of. They serve to remind us once again that we really do care about the welfare of our fellow human beings. More and more these days, it seems, we are looking for our chance to act on these feelings as we continue to awaken to our true nature.
There was a time in our recent past when most of us in this society held money and material things as the priority. But those days of pure self-service seem to be waning, in favour of a growing hunger to help others and feel like we are part of one big community. Truck drivers are paid by the efficiency and volume of their deliveries, so these kinds of detours directly affect their material welfare. They chose to make human life a higher priority. That is why their actions offer such great promise for all of us.
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