While others at the scene panicked and retreated, the young boys immediately jumped to action, displaying incredible quick-thinking, heroism, and compassion.
Trigger Warning: Suicide, Suicidal Ideation
Devonte Cafferkey, Sammy Farah, and Shawn Young were on their home from school when they noticed a man sitting on the edge of an overpass with a rope around his neck. The teens—who were at the time only 13, 14, and 12-years-old respectively—quickly realized that the man intended to jump off the bridge they cross every day. While others at the scene panicked and retreated, the young boys immediately jumped to action, displaying incredible quick-thinking, heroism, and compassion. "It was just a normal day coming home from school, we were going to chill at Devonte's house," Young told ITV News.
UK— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) February 14, 2019
These three saved a suicidal man from jumping off the bridge.
They tried to keep him back from the edge, talk him around, & when he went to jump, they grabbed onto him and refused to let go
Their names are- Devonte, 13, Sammy, 14, and Shawn, 12
KNOW THEM 😭
Retweet ❤ pic.twitter.com/F2zzmVkBwh
"We were going to the shops for some snacks and as we walked up someone told us, 'There is a crazy man,'" he said of the events of September 21, 2017. Rather than walk away or retreat and watch the scene unfold, the boys did everything in their capacity to save the man's life. "Devonte and Sam went to hold him but it kicked in that we can’t do this by ourselves, so I went to get help, the road was quite busy that day," said Young. According to Metro, although the boys tried to talk the man back from the edge, he tried to jump off.
They quickly grabbed onto him and refused to let go. Meanwhile, Young ran into the traffic to get help and was nearly hit by a car. "I didn’t know what to do, I was just knocking on neighbors' doors and I stopped cars," he recounted. "I ran so quickly into the road that a car nearly hit me." Behind the wheels of the car was Joanne Stammers who, upon seeing the "absolute fear" in the boy's eyes, stopped her vehicle and rushed out to help. Back on the bridge, Cafferkey was holding on to the man's leg through the railings while Farah held his arm, both of them urging the man not to try to push away.
“He was crying and wiping his eyes, we said ‘you’ve got family, it’s not worth it’.”— The Root (@TheRoot) April 8, 2018
Three black British school boys will receive a national service award for saving man attempting to commit suicide: https://t.co/KcKDduz0v6 pic.twitter.com/CEEQ2R8I2A
"He just kept saying let go," said Farah. "When I ran over I was scared he was going to attack me. I didn’t want to see him die." Amid the struggle, the man handed his car keys and mobile phone to the boys, telling them: "If it rings, don’t answer it." Stammers, who is registered disabled with Klippel–Trénaunay syndrome—a rare disability that makes her highly prone to blood clotting—took over from the boys with the help of another stranger named James Higlett and held onto the man "for what feels like forever," even though it left her with bruising all over her arms.
After around 10 minutes, the police arrived on scene and closed the road, followed by the fire brigade with a ladder. Cafferkey helped the officers handcuff the man but getting him down was still a struggle. "He [the man] was trying to throw himself backward and they were leaning back and all their weight was trying to hold him back," said Stammers. "He was fighting the whole time, he was not willing to talk or anything, he just really wanted to die. He kept going to pass out and that added to the weight. Police managed to (secure him) and then it was just a fight to hold him."
The police finally managed to regain control of the young man and eased him down with the help of a cherry picker from the fire brigade. While an ambulance drove him to the hospital, the police took the boys' details, before the youngsters continued on their way to the snack shop. Young's mom, Carol, heard about the harrowing incident from her son and revealed that the boys have "just got on with it" since their life-saving efforts. "They were coming from school and loitering around, Shawn was telling them to hurry up. If they had been messing around a bit longer, who knows what they would have come and met instead?" she said.
"I feel like they were meant to be there to help him. Shawn told me what happened when he came home. I let him finish the whole story and the whole way through I was smiling because there was nothing I could add to it," she added. "I am extremely proud of all three of them, they are all good boys and it’s nice that they are getting recognized for doing something good in the community. Quite often in the national news there are a lot of negative reports about young people so it is nice to have something positive. They are very young and I marvel at how they are all dealing with it." All three boys picked up Special Achievement Awards at the Broxbourne Youth Awards for their bravery.