Life-saving conversation: First responders bring distressed woman on bridge to safety in York County

York County

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — A group of first responders is being credited for saving a woman’s life in York County.

The situation unfolded Thursday afternoon while the woman was in distress on top of the George P. Coleman Bridge in Yorktown.

10 On Your Side spoke with one of the first responders who brought her to safety.

York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office deputies, York County firefighters and Gloucester County deputies all worked together and successfully prevented the woman from jumping off the bridge

We’re told patience and compassion played a key role in the outcome.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words — but it’s the words that were said before a freeze-frame of body camera footage that tell the story.

“Oh, it was nothing but relief. Absolutely nothing but relief — again you don’t know what someone’s going through,” said Larry McCay, a sergeant with York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.

McCay is one of several first responders who shared in a life-saving conversation with the woman experiencing a crisis nearly 100 feet above the York River.

“It’s always nerve-wracking because you don’t know what’s going to happen. People go through stuff that you may never know about,” he said.

McCay said the woman had most of her body over the guardrail when deputies and firefighters arrived on scene.

Then, they started talking.

“When we were initially talking to her, we were probably a good 15 feet from her. We didn’t want to bum rush her or invade her personal bubble or anything,” he said.

For more than 20 minutes, first responders chatted with the woman.

“We talked to her and she was big into surfing and that kind of stuff,” McCay said.

They took turns building trust.

“As time progressed — five, 10, 15 minutes in — her body language kind of softened a bit. She laughed a couple times when we were talking to her,” McCay said.

Eventually, patience paid off.

“She was on her phone and I just asked if I could look at what she was looking at,” McCay said. “I grabbed her arm, started grabbing legs. Everyone communicated ‘I got this part, I got this part,’ and slowly we just pulled her back through.”

This team effort reminds us — you’re never alone.

“Even if you don’t have anybody else in your mind to call or talk to, reach out to your local law enforcement office, police department sheriff’s office or whatever it might be and we can get you in contact with resources,” McCay said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8254. You can also visit their website here. 

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