The boys continued to call out to her until she pulled herself back up
Middle school volleyball players in Fresno, California are being credited with saving a woman’s life over the weekend when they came upon her hanging from a bridge over railroad tracks.
The athletes were meeting up for a team practice on Saturday at Kepler Neighborhood School in Fresno, which begins with a warm-up run. As several students made their way across nearby Tuolumne Street Bridge, they looked on in horror as a woman hung suspended over 100 feet in the air by her arms, WPVI reported.
Middle school volleyball players in Fresno were working out over the weekend when they spotted a woman in distress on a bridge
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 8, 2019
“She was like, one hand, and feet hanging already,” said Brandy Ezell, who was one of the students present. Another student, Joshua Velasquez, said it took the boys a minute to realize what was about to happen. “I realize what was going on when her foot started dangling,” Velasquez said. “Then after that, we all ran down as a team to go tell our coach.”
Athletic director and coach Murray Elliott heard the boys screams and once he was informed what was going on, he called 911 and told the kids to head back to the bridge to try to get the woman’s attention, TODAY reported. “I said immediately, ‘Go back up and get her attention. Tell her her life matters,’” he said. “So for a whole 10 minutes or so, they did not stop yelling, screaming, telling her, ‘Your life matters.’”
“Her feet were off the ground and she was holding herself up only by her arms,” Murray told The Fresno Bee. “And it’s not like she was holding onto a rail. She’s holding onto concrete. That’s it. It was scary.”
Authorities were able to confirm the student’s story, reporting a 47-year-old woman was considering jumping from the bridge to her death before the group of middle schoolers saw her. “We contacted her, found out she was actually trying to commit suicide and the officer placed her on a mental health evaluation hold for 72 hours to be evaluated by mental health workers,” Fresno Police Department’s Lieutenant, Mark Hudson, said.
The boys were in the right place at the right time, likely saving a woman in her most vulnerable moment. In the U.S. alone, dying by suicide is the tenth leading cause of death, with over 1.4 million attempts in 2017 alone. Mental health is something that should be talked about openly in our society, and often. The stigma needs to go away, and our younger generations can help mediate this by being a part of the conversation. They have the capacity and compassion to understand the magnitude of this crisis and, as this story highlights, make a real impact.
“She took a glance and hearing those kids, it registered to her, ‘I can’t do this in front of them’,” Murray said. The boys pleaded with her to pull herself back up, and eventually, she did. They saved her life that day and their quick thinking is a reminder to all of us that if you see something, do something.