CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. (FOX 29) - A Camden County police sergeant saved a man preparing to jump from a bridge. He spoke to FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson.
"I got my hands up to show him like I'm here to help," said Camden County Police Sgt. Christopher Sarlo.
He showed FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson the spot on the bridge over Newton Creek in Camden. It's where last week around 2:30 a.m. he found a man ready jump after getting a domestic violence call.
He says the man didn't want to talk and threatened to jump if any other police showed up. Sarlo needed a breakthrough.
"Eventually, we were able to start building a rapport talk and find out we had some things in common like sports and things like that."
He added, "I got him to tell me what there was for him to live for and he said his son. So I found out he had a son. I'm actually having a daughter soon so I was able to break ground with that," said Sarlo.
Nearly an hour and a half later, there was a sign of hope.
"He was like, 'If I come over the fence, you're going to arrest me.' I told him, 'I'm not here to arrest you. You haven't committed a crime. You're just having a bad day.' He hopped over the fence, but still apprehensive. He didn't want me to come near him. We walked down toward a dirt lot 100 yards that way and then EMS came," said Sarlo.
The 11-year veteran of the force says talking calmly to the man about his daily routine convinced him he had something to live for.
"He actually said he takes his son to school and I said, 'I just want to help you take your son to school in the morning.'"
Sgt. Raphael Thornton trains officers and say the hardest thing is saving a life that doesn't want to be saved. He says Sarlo gave it his all and won.
"At the end of the day he showed sincerity, he was honest and he really got through to that gentleman that he really wanted to help save his life," he said.
Around six to eight months ago, Sarlo helped save another person trying to jump from the Baird Boulevard Bridge. De-escalation took nearly three hours that time. His co-workers are proud of him, as is his sister, who works here at our station.
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, seven days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text 741-741.