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'Good Samaritans' hailed heroes for saving man's life

Thursday, 12 January 2017

PASSERS-by, including a Translink bus driver, who prevented a man jumping from a bridge in the town at the weekend have been praised for their heroics.

The dramatic rescue unfolded just shortly after 7am on Saturday morning on Strabane bridge close to Bradley Way.

Thanks to the actions of four strangers; Clodagh Poyntz, bus driver, Ronan Ward and two other men named locally as Luke O'Neill and Lee Edgar, who came to the aid of the distressed man, he was eventually hauled to safety.

Details of the incident first emerged after Joseph Carlin, a passenger on a Dublin-bound Translink bus, brought the driver's actions to the attention of his employers.

He tweeted: "You should know your driver just saved a life by talking a man off the bridge in Strabane. Hero."

Mr Carlin explained that the shaken driver continued on with the journey after the man was taken to safety. "The whole bus applauded him after he apologised to us for holding us up. No one cared. We are in safe hands. The man deserves an award," he added.

It soon emerged however that there was more than one 'Good Samaritan' involved in Saturday morning's rescue.

Twenty-six-year-old Clodagh, who is from Killyclogher, Omagh, had been on her way to work at the time, and was one of the first to arrive on the scene.

Speaking to the Strabane Weekly News shortly afterwards she spoke of the dramatic moment she and three strangers worked together to pull the man to safety.

She explained that as she drove towards the bridge she spotted someone standing alone and immediately knew something was wrong. She then quickly turned her car and reached out to the stricken man.

The shocked Omagh woman, who at this stage was aided by Mr O'Neill, said the pair held onto the man and pleaded with him not to take his own life.

"I was on my way to work at 7.20am. Just before I came over Strabane Bridge, I saw a man in paint clothes walking and then running. After I drove by him and came to the bridge I thought I saw someone at the corner of my eye standing on the other side.

"I turned my car and drove back. I got out of the car and asked him was he okay to which he replied: 'Go away just leave me'. At this point the other man came and the both of us had his two arms and held on to him for dear life.

"He had his whole body weight leaning back towards the river trying to push us away. If we had of let him slip he was gone."

Clodagh said that both she and Mr O'Neill tried desperately to calm the man down until further help arrived.

She continued: "I told him that no matter how bad he thinks things are that this isn't the way out. He replied: 'That's the problem you see there is no help, nobody cares'. He kept saying 'please just leave me'".

She urged the man to listen to her and even offered to take the day off work to talk with him. "I said to him that if he climbed back over the rails that I'd take a day off work and sit in my car and listen to him all day and even take him to get him help."

Moments later the early morning Translink bus pulled up and the driver, Mr Ward, rang police. Clodagh continued: "He (bus driver) then took a grip of the man and let me free because I couldn't have held him much longer. Shortly after that the police arrived (but) everyone still struggled to pull him back over the other side."

It was at this point that Sion Mills man, Lee Edgar, then arrived on the scene and managed to attach a safety harness to the bridge.

"He had a harness in the back of the van and he climbed over to help push him up. In the end the man was pulled safely over and hopefully he will get the help he needs," Clodagh added.

Clodagh says all involved in the rescue played a crucial part in saving the man's life. "There was definitely more than one hero on Saturday morning," she said, and she has since spoken of her desire to meet the man.

The story has received a huge response on social media and across news outlets in recent days with dozens of messages of praise for the heroic quartet.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Monday afternoon a Translink spokesperson praised their colleague for his compassion.

"Ronan stopped his bus and called the police. Two other passers-by were also trying to help the individual. The police arrived a short time later and the combined efforts of the police officers, our driver and passers-by resulted in the man being taken from the bridge.

"Ronan returned to his bus, apologised to the passengers for the delay and continued his journey to Dublin. We would like to commend our colleague for his compassion."

Anyone affected by this story or in distress is urged to contact the on Samaritans 116 123 or Lifeline 0808 808 8000.

 

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