I'm crossing the George Washington Bridge on my way to the good ol' Jerz when I get to one of the support towers and notice a crisis hotline phone. You know, for jumpers. I've crossed the bridge a million times and never really noticed it before. As I looked out at the dark and cloudy landscape of the city as an impending storm approached, I couldn't help but think- Welp, this is certainly a good day to for it! That and just how effortless it would be to throw yourself over the railing..
I slowly snake my way through the narrow corridor in the tower and when I get to the other side I see a cyclist talking on another crisis phone, nervously looking out towards the bridge span. I look out to see what he's focused on. There was a woman on her phone holding her head up, visibly upset. A discarded backpack sitting on the ground in the middle of the path near her. Another cyclist who had been riding ahead of me was now making an attempt to talk with her. As I slowly passed them she lost it and started screaming bloody murder. My assumption was that someone she knew had jumped moments before I turned the corner..
I wondered what the chances of rolling up on a situation like that were after imagining the scenario not seconds ago. Morbid curiosity crept in as I pondered the curcumstances leading up to the person giving up and throwing themselves over the railing. The feeling of initial freefall before being swallowed up by the depths of the turbulent Hudson river over six hundred feet below..
There was really nothing I could do at that point and since there were other people around, I figured I'd keep moving and not crowd things up. I rode a couple of hundred yards down when all of a sudden I see this kid, half hiding behind one of the cables. He had a blank look on his face and he motioned for me to stop. I stop immediately (I was riding my sweet fixie so you know I pulled an equally sweet skid to a stylish halt) realizing that this might be the person the woman (his sister I later found out) was screaming about. I turned around and went over to try and talk to him. He was just a young kid, early 20s if that. He was clearly shaken up about something so I asked him if he was alright and what was wrong. The wind suddenly picked up and began to howl between the steel girders, large droplets of rain started pounding against my face. His lips began to move but between the wind, rain and passing traffic it seemed as if nothing was coming out. It was a very intense and surreal moment. The cyclist who stopped to talk to the sister rode up a second later, looked at the kid, then at me and instantly knew what the situation was. The both of us then continued telling the kid to take it easy and chill out, it'll be okay, his sister was right on the other side of the bridge and she's really worried about him..
Not long after a cop car pulled up. He got really nervous and started moving off. I got off my bike thinking- Holy shit, I'm gonna have to tackle this fucking guy before he gets too close to the rail! Fortuneatly the cops jumped over the guard rail and instructed us to stay away from him. They confronted him, asking him to relax but he kept moving away and telling them to back off. Since his focus was on them another cop came up from behind him. The kid saw him at the last second and made a break for the railing but it was too late. The cops managed to grab him and take him down before he could do anything..
I told the other cyclist who was with me to ride back and get his sister right away. She came running up a few minutes later and I let the police know who she was. At that point I didn't really know what else I could do so once the police had everything under control, I continued my ride home. The crazy thing is that I wasn't even going to ride that day since there was a threat of thundershowers. Guess it's a good thing I did!