A Chattanooga police officer heroically pulled a woman from the edge of the Market Street Bridge in Tennessee, preventing her suicide. The entire incident was captured on a dash cam.
At around 11:30pm on April 16th, Officer Steven Meador received a call about a potential suicide attempt taking place on Market Street Bridge, which overlooks the Tennessee River.
Officer Meador was four blocks away when he received the call and sped to the scene, arriving less than 30 seconds later. He immediately saw a woman sitting on the 4 foot-high handrail of the bridge. Two pedestrians who had spotted her were attempting to talk to her down from the handrail with no success.
Officer Meador saw the woman’s driver’s license face up on the sidewalk, next to her wallet. He called this a red-flag, and a common indicator of a suicide attempt.
“We’ve had jumpers before, and a lot of times they’ll do that,” he said. “Usually just to let us or whoever finds them know that this where [they were]. Kind of like a landmark.”
Officer Meadow immediately tried to close all lanes of bridge traffic and talk to the lady.
“The only thing that I’m thinking is, ‘I cannot let this lady jump,’” Meador said. “I knew, most of the time, you can engage in conversation and de-escalate the situation, but she wasn’t having any of it.”
When Officer Meador attempted to ask her what was going on, she repeated several times, “I don’t want to be here.” When he asked her what her name was, she replied, “None of your business.” Officer Meador also offered her a cigarette in order to calm her down, but she insisted that she already had one.
The woman then stood up and said “I’m gonna go now,” before turning around to face the river and saying “I’m done.”
“I started to panic,” said Officer Meador, who remained at a distance of roughly 20 feet away in order to not cause more stress. When the woman started crying, he made the decision to run up behind her so she could not see him and pull her down from the ledge.
When he reached her, Officer Meador grabbed the back of her jeans and her shirt, pulling both the woman and himself backwards onto the pavement. The woman suffered slight abrasions on her shoulder and cheek but was not majorly injured.
Officer Meador recalled the tense moment, saying that as he ran towards her, he was just hoping that he could make it in time. “If she rolled to the right, she would have fallen into the water. If she rolled to the left, she would have fallen into the road. If she jumped, she would have been killed.”
Officer Meador said he had encountered “hairy situations” before, but had never “had someone right in front me with the possibility of jumping.”
The woman was immediately sent to the hospital to be medically treated, where Officer Meador visited her later that night to check on her.
“She was still upset, but I don’t think she meant it. I think she was just in a really bad state,” Meador said. “Personally, I’ve lost people to suicide before, and I can’t imagine the heavy weight of what would make someone make that decision.”
Even days later, Officer Meador says he cannot help but imagine the “what if’s.”
“What if she’d jumped? What if I didn’t get there in time? I’d have to live with that forever.”
When the Chattanooga Police Department made a post on their Facebook page, a user named McKenzie Taylor wrote, “Thank you for saving my Mother’s life.”
“I had no idea she was on the bridge and I was close by,” Taylor continued in a second post. “I wouldn’t know what to do without her. Thank you so so much. She’s doing fine.”
Taylor later wrote to the Washington Post, saying, “Mom and me then got into a really heated argument, and I took off. Hurtful things were said.”
She said nothing that extreme had ever happened before, and that she was grateful to Officer Meador.
“People try to make officers out to be terrible, but Officer Meador saved my mother’s life and I can’t thank him enough,” Taylor wrote.
Many other Facebook users wrote comments praising Officer Meador for his actions.
One wrote, “You are a true hero,” another, “So proud of you Steven, and the career that you have chosen.” One user, who was particularly moved, wrote, “This is why I want to go into this career field. Moments like this.”