Truck drivers help end suicide attempt on Interstate 696 in Michigan

April 24, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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More than a dozen tractor-trailers assisted the Michigan State Police’s efforts to prevent a man from committing suicide by jumping into traffic along Interstate 696 in Huntington Woods, Mich.

Thirteen truck drivers parked underneath an overpass on I-696 for more than three hours on the morning of Tuesday, April 24, until negotiators talked the man down. The incident, which started about 1 a.m., ended peacefully, and the man was taken to a local hospital.

“It’s a procedure that we use all of the time,” Michigan State Police spokesman Lt. Mike Shaw said. “We had an individual who was debating taking his life on the overpass. Usually what we’ll do as we’re directing traffic off the freeway system, we’ll commandeer truck drivers.

“We know the semi-trucks can break the fall, so to speak. So we line them up underneath the overpass in case somebody loses their grip or makes the decision to jump. That way, it makes it to where they fall only 5 or 6 feet instead of 12 to 15 feet. It’s just a way for us to try and get the best outcome from the situation.”

Shaw said that law enforcement appreciates truck drivers’ willingness to help.

“We’ve never been turned down by a truck driver,” Shaw said. “The trucking community is always very good to law enforcement. They report a lot of things that’s happening on the freeway to us. Every time we ask, the response is ‘absolutely.’”

Shaw said the law enforcement is especially thankful as it is aware that asking a truck driver to donate three hours is a big sacrifice.

“We know they’re under the gun,” he said. “Their employer wants to know why the load isn’t there on time. We’re always appreciative of what they do.”

 

 Photo courtesy FOX 2 Detroit. If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.