Officer saves man's life on motorway bridge

Wednesday, 02 July, 2008

DETERMINED police officer Caroline Williams saved the life of a man trying to kill himself by hanging on to his arms as he tried to throw himself off a motorway bridge.

She hung on by herself for several minutes until motorists on the M11 beneath stopped to help and haul the man to safety.

"Although it was only a few minutes, it felt like forever," said acting Ds Williams, who is 5ft 4ins.

She was travelling back to Brentwood CID along the A414 near Harlow on Thursday, June 29, when she noticed a man who appeared to be climbing over the railings of a bridge over the M11at Junction 7.

After driving back around the roundabout, she got out and approached the man, who was crouching down by the railings and appeared very distressed.

After calling the incident in to colleagues, she tried to talk to the man, who repeatedly said he wanted to die. As he started to lower himself off the bridge, acting Ds Williams caught on to both his arms. She then managed to let go of one arm briefly to activate the emergency button on her Airwave radio - so she could update fellow officers 'hands-free' - before grabbing back on to the man's arm again.

The man, who was 5ft 10ins, then managed to release one of his arms, leaving acting Ds Williams hanging on by one hand "I was worried I would let go - I don't know how I hung on," she said. "I thought that if I let go of him he could die and he could also possibly kill someone travelling along the motorway underneath."

Motorists travelling along the southbound carriageway of the M11 and across the Junction 7 roundabout at about 8.15pm spotted the drama unfolding and several stopped to help.

"I would like to thank everyone who stopped to help - four or five men helped me to pull him back up over the railings," said acting Ds Williams, 37.

Colleagues from Harlow police station arrived shortly afterwards and detained the 34-year-old Harlow man, who was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Acting Supt Mike Martin, of Western Division, said: "This was a fantastic piece of work. By acting in this brave and selfless manner, Caroline saved the life of a disturbed man - she made a real difference on that day.

"She has the thanks and admiration of all staff on the division for a truly outstanding act."

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