They never intended to save a life when they started the run, but by the end of it they suddenly had.
As reported by the Washington Post, two Georgetown Prep cross country runners came across a man who planned to commit suicide by leaping off a pedestrian bridge on to a highway, and were able to talk him down from the top of the bridge and call for help before he could commit the act. The two runners — Archer Chapin and Liam Wedderburn — were paired together because both had shown up late for practice and were sent on an alternate route.
According to Chapin, a middle-aged man waited for the two teenagers to cross before proceeding toward the center of the bridge, at which point Chapin said it became clear what was coming next. The two sprung into action, with Chapin staying at the scene to talk to the man and ensure he didn’t jump while Wedderburn raced to a nearby house to borrow a phone and call the police.
Somehow, Chapin was able to dissuade the man from taking his own life, perhaps with a bit of luck from traffic patterns.
“He said he was waiting for a truck,” Chapin told the Post. “No trucks came, thankfully, at the beginning when he was very inclined to jump. There’s the netting, there’s the ledge. He actually got into the jumping position. Whenever he did that I would raise my voice a little bit to make sure he’d step back.
“He kept yelling at me, with anger, to go away. He kept repeating, ‘Just go away.’ I kept repeating, ‘Please don’t jump.’ Nothing really specific because I didn’t know anything about him. He kept saying to go away, but I told him I wouldn’t.”
The man eventually climbed down from the top of the bridge and walked away, escaping far enough away that he could not be located by police when the arrived. There’s no telling whether the man changed his perspective on suicide after the intervention, but Wedderburn offered sage advice after the incident.
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a short-term problem,” Wedderburn said.