Thirteen semitruck drivers got a call from the Michigan State Police last Tuesday that they were needed — and immediately rolled out to stop a suicidal man from jumping off a highway overpass.
The state police called on truckers driving through the area to line the highway below a Detroit-area overpass after getting a 911 call at about 1 a.m. last Tuesday, LifeSiteNews reported.
State police closed the highway in both directions and organized the truckers beneath the Huntington Woods overpass on Interstate 696, which bypasses Detroit. Negotiations with the desperate man lasted about three hours — and the trucks remained parked on the roadway during that time.
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Eventually, law enforcement authorities were able to get the man to come down safely and to go to the hospital for appropriate help.
“It’s sometimes the perception of truck drivers that they’re kind of rough guys and gals –– which can be true — but they love helping others and being useful,” John Brubaker, a long-distance truck driver from Hampton, Iowa, told LifeZette. “They’re usually so far away from home and don’t get a chance to help out in their community, so they want to help anyone out on the highway who needs it.”
Lt. Mike Shaw with the Michigan State Police told the local Fox affiliate the department has used truckers to help in situations such as this one for at least 23 years — and that it’s never been hard to get them to assist someone in need.
Law enforcement knows that “if someone jumps from that height, it’s usually not going to be a good outcome,” Shaw said. “We will actually steal semitrucks out of the crowd, and as we get the cars off the freeway we will direct the semis to another trooper who’s standing underneath the bridge, and we will start to line them up right across.”
“They want to help out, too,” Shaw added. “Nobody wants to see [people] take their own life, and if it takes parking your truck underneath an overpass for a couple of hours to make sure somebody is safe, they’re more than willing to do that.”
There is some confusion with the photo taken this morning. This is not an MSP photo as we don’t share law enforcement tactics. This photo was taken by a photographer at @FOX2News that was also doing their job this morning at the scene. pic.twitter.com/ONlsDULGys
— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) April 24, 2018
“They’re very big-hearted people,” echoed Brubaker about members of the long-haul trucking community. He said that when he was a new truck driver, “I remember being struck by how veteran drivers immediately wanted to help me in any way they could. I’ve seen many a semi on the side of the road, pulled over and helping at an accident. You can bet that the first person to stop is a trucker.”
“We have been doing this for as long as I have been in the department, which is 1995,” Shaw said of using truckers in this sort of emergency. “We have kept it quiet for that long, but social media and cellphones kind of changed that.”
Lt. Shaw emphasized that there is help for anyone anywhere who might be considering suicide.
“There are so many other options for help,” Shaw said, whether “it’s the National Suicide Prevention hotline, clergy, family” — or calling 911. “There are so many other options than climbing up on that overpass.”
Brubaker emphasized that truck drivers are very supportive of law enforcement.
“A trucker will be the first one to pull over.”
“Like anyone else, we don’t like getting pulled over [for a traffic violation] — but when law enforcement needs us, we’re there without a second thought,” he said. “And when an officer needs some help — maybe he’s wrestling with someone he’s stopped on the side of the road — a trucker will be the first one to pull over.”
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Deirdre Reilly is a senior editor at LifeZette.