Officers Daniel Raines and Aaron Henning were beginning their Sunday patrol one morning in April, preparing for what they thought would be a routine day. However, just an hour after their 5 a.m. start, they received an unexpected call.
An off-duty firefighter had been driving along the Robert E. Lee Bridge when he spotted a man who looked as though he was ready to jump. Raines and Henning immediately reported to the scene, where they saw a man who was preparing to end his life.
“You could definitely tell he was in distress, crying, visibly upset,” Raines told WTVR. “He stated that he had just walked out of MCV and walked right to the bridge, had suffered from seizures all his life. I think his grandmother or his mother had passed away. Nobody pretty much there for him anymore.”
The two officers were able to get close to the man — so close, in fact, that the bodycam of one of the officers picked up some frightening footage of the suicidal man already standing on the other side of the bridge’s railing.
“That’s the furthest I’ve seen somebody,” Raines said of the nearly fatal incident. Henning added, “That was definitely the ‘oh crap’ moment.”
Raines and Henning could see just how far the man would be falling if he were to jump, and they determined that there was no chance he would survive. Together they decided that it was time to take action.
From behind the man, Henning started to orchestrate a plan silently and motioned to both Raines and the firefighter just what to do.
“I looked at both of them — we’re like, the conversation ain’t going nowhere — made a nod,” Henning said. “Sure enough, in sync, all three of us, the firefighter grabbed him from behind, me and him both put our arms out and pulled him over.”
Seconds later, the three were consoling the troubled man and telling him that he was out of danger. According to the local outlet, the entire interaction lasted only two and a half minutes. From there, the officers took him to Richmond Community Hospital, where they accompanied him for nearly four hours as he was voluntarily committed — and then it was back to work.
“It’s just another day, another call, and calls never stop,” Raines explained.
And although it might have seemed like just another ordinary day for the two officers, they were recently recognized for their extraordinary efforts with bronze awards at this year’s Valor Awards, an annual ceremony that honors the heroism of police and first responders.
Henning said, “There’s a lot of officers that do things on a daily basis that are just as good if not better than what we did that day.” Raines added, “And the public will never know about it.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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