Realtor and CPS employee also help thwart suicide attempt
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August 04, 2009 4:50 PM
BY JAMES GILBERT, YUMA SUN STAFF WRITER
The two men who helped state transportation worker Edward Lugo save the life of a 55-year-old man who tried to jump off the 16th Street bridge over Interstate 8 Thursday morning are a local Realtor and a Child Protective Services employee from Phoenix.
A human resource manager, Terry Christopherson was in town to conduct training sessions for the managers at CPS's office in Yuma.
He was riding in a van with two other employees, and they had just exited Interstate 8 at the 16th Street bridge and were heading west into town when they came upon the scene.
"At first I just thought the two guys were fighting," Christopherson said. "But as we drove past them I heard (Lugo) yell for help."
As a retired sergeant major who spent 23 years in the U.S. Army as a special forces medic, and a Purple Heart recipient, that cry for help was all it took for Christopherson to spring into action.
"I didn't have to think twice, that is how I react," Christopherson said. "I would have done that for anyone."
A few minutes earlier, Lugo had been doing landscape work along the interstate and was heading back to the Arizona Department of Transportation yard at about 9:30 a.m. to empty the debris from the back of his truck.
Lugo noticed the distraught man while he was waiting to turn left at the red light on the entry ramp to 16th Street. As he continued to watch, the distraught man walked to the concrete wall of the bridge, looked over and then sat on the ledge with one leg hanging off.
That is when Lugo jumped out of his truck and went over to the distraught man, trying to talk him out of jumping as he approached.
Once he got close enough, Lugo grabbed hold of the distraught man, but the man, who was quite a bit larger than Lugo, pushed him aside.
In desperation, Lugo grabbed the man a second time, this time around the waistband of his pants, and fell to the ground, using the concrete wall to brace himself and prevent the distraught man from going all the way over the edge.
Lugo struggled with the man for about 10 minutes before two other men finally came over and pulled the distraught man back over the ledge and onto the bridge.
The other man to stop and help was 46-year-old local Realtor Bill Snyder, a real estate broker for Liberty Properties, who was on his way to work.
"In my wildest dreams, I wouldn't have thought I would ever find myself in this kind of situation," Snyder said. "Like many others I might have driven on by, but it seemed like a situation that I needed to stop for."
Snyder said once he decided to stop, he stopped his Jeep, threw on his hazard lights and ran over to the scene.
"At first it took a moment to sink in," Snyder said. "I was worried (the distraught man) was going to take the road worker over with him because he was a bigger guy."
Once the distraught man was safely back on the bridge, police were called and he was later involuntarily committed to a local facility for treatment.
Despite his unscheduled rescue stop, Christopherson said he was only 10 minutes late to the training session he was conducting.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.