Michigan State Police say truck-wall sends message of hope: 'There is help'

The truck drivers and Michigan State Police troopers who created a wall of trucks under a freeway overpass, preventing a person from jumping, are being hailed as heroes. Renee Osaer, safety director for Moon Star, said she was proud that one of the company's drivers was involved.  "At Moon Star (Express) we believe in safety and giving people chances," Osaer said. "We were very pleased to be able to assist in the situation because we feel that all of our drivers and everyone out there are people, and that's ultimately the goal — safety and people." At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, a truck wall was assembled under the Coolidge overpass on I-696 to prevent a man from taking his life. There were 13 trucks total, lined up on both the eastbound and westbound sides of the freeway, with the man standing above them. Because of the efforts of the Michigan State Police and the truckers, the man walked safely off the overpass. The situation lasted about two hours. Michigan State Police directed the trucks as they approached the overpass, First Lt. Michael Shaw said. "Basically, what we do, as we're shutting the freeway down, we'll go through and we'll kind of 'volun-told' some truck drivers as they come along and we'll line them up underneath there," Shaw said. "The thought process of that is, if the individual involved decides to jump off of the overpass or loses his grip and falls, he's only falling 5 feet or 6 feet onto the top of these semi-trailers." Shaw said the practice has been used for more than 20 years, but it has never taken up an entire freeway. It has also never apparently been captured on camera and shared widely on social media.  Shaw said these situations usually resolve themselves in 10 to 15 minutes. As praise has poured in for the police and the drivers, Shaw said it's important to focus on what sparked their actions.  "One of the things that we really wanted to talk about with this particular photo, as we saw it kind of circulating around is, we know our troopers did a great job out there and we're grateful for the truck drivers but also in that photo is a man standing on the overpass, thinking about taking his own life," Shaw said. "For law enforcement, we take that very seriously." Shaw also stressed that people who are considering suicide should know there is help available.  "We want to make sure to kind of use this photo as well to tell people that there is help out there," Shaw said.  "Be it the suicide hotline, be it 911, the clergy, a family member. Before you take that final step, reach out to people and talk to them about maybe some help you can get."

4/30/17

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