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Strangers intervene to stop man jumping off Cambridge overpass

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Monday, 3 December 2018, 6:16a.m.
Cambridge Rd overpass, looking towards Bethlehem. Photo / George Novak
Cambridge Rd overpass, looking towards Bethlehem. Photo / George Novak

A Tauranga builder has spoken of the moment he hauled a stranger back to safety as he dangled over a busy overpass, the traffic grinding to a standstill underneath.

Police publicly praised the heroics in which bystanders came to the aid of a man "in crisis" who climbed over the railing of the Cambridge Rd overpass.

Greerton's Kieran Roper told the Herald he was driving his family towards Bethlehem for an evening meal out on November 26 when he saw the man clambering over the handrail.

He pulled over, leaving his partner and children behind in the car, to run towards the bridge.

As Roper approached, the stranger yelled at him and turned away.

Roper reached out and grabbed him through the handrail.

He held the full weight of the stranger in his arms until the next person came along to help, Roper said.

"It seemed like forever, it would have been only seconds, but it seemed like forever."

There were moments when he thought he was going to have to let go due to a previous back injury, he said.

"I couldn't turn around to see or talk to anyone because I was hard up against the rail, but I was so thankful that other people came to help me and could see what was happening.

"There would have been five of us that pulled him back over the rail."

They used a tiedown to pull him up, he said.

"We basically held him down on the footpath until the police turned up and then the ambulance."

It was a harrowing experience for the 34-year-old.

"I was in shock for hours afterwards," Roper said.

"I couldn't concentrate, my hands were shaking. I didn't sleep properly that night.

"I'm just a normal person and I hope anybody else would have done that.

"I just happened to be the first one there."

Roper said he just hoped the man got the help he needed.

"No matter what they have been through, it's not the way."

His partner Skye Gibb, who remained in the car with the young children, said it was an overwhelming situation.

"He is really good under pressure," she said. "I was really proud of him."

Gibb said she would really like to see how the man was going in the future.

The man later wrote a few words thanking those who helped him and shared them with police who in turn shared them on Facebook.

"To Police, Ambulance and Fire who turned out, my thanks for being there to either support me, or worse pick up the pieces. I know your job is hard and for anyone who thinks otherwise, you are crazier than I.

"No-one knows unless they have travelled the path what depression can do, what a once perfectly happy person suffers or believes when in a cycle of depression and self hate.

"Even I who has been there find it hard to explain.

"I am grateful to staff at Ward 17, who let me be, made sure I knew they were there should I want to talk, listened when I did and hugged when I needed."

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


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