Three police officers, who prevented suicide bid that could have resulted in a major motorway pile up, have been awarded top national honours.
The PSNI officers were searching for a Craigavon man who had left a suicide note before setting off on his motorcycle.
The man was found ‘with seconds to spare’ as he was rushing towards the safety railing on the bridge over the M1 in Boconell Lane, Lurgan, to hurl himself to his death.
Constable’s Jonathan Hillen and another officer who cannot be named grabbed him just as he vaulted the railings and clung to him as he struggled to break free. At the time – 6.15am on 9 October last year – the M1 below was busy with fast moving traffic. If the man had succeeded in breaking lose it would have caused a major pile-up as he plummeted into the traffic.
However, the two officers managed to cling to him as he dangled above the traffic and Constable Matthew Orr then arrived, grabbed the man’s belt while one of the others handcuffed the man’s wrist to the railings to prevent him falling. The three officers then dragged him back over the railings to safety.
Now the three of them are to receive Royal Humane Society Testimonials on Parchment for their actions and they have also won the personal praise of Andrew Chapman, Secretary of the Society.
As he announced the awards at the Society’s London headquarters he said: “This was one of the closest run potential disasters we have ever dealt with.
“The man was grabbed as he vaulted over the railings. Seconds later and nothing could have been done to stop him carrying out his suicide bid.
“The three officers involved here did a superb job in grabbing him and preventing him falling into the traffic below. One can’t even begin to think what they were going through as he held him dangling above the motorway. “And in the mean time motorists were driving past below oblivious of the danger which could have plummeted out of the sky on them but for the efforts of these officers.”
No date has yet been fixed for presentation of the awards but it is expected to take place in the near future.
The Royal Humane Society is the premier national body for honouring bravery in the saving of human life. As it emerged that numerous people were prepared to put their own lives at risk to save others, the awards scheme Useful numbers for those who need help: Lifeline 0808 808 8000 Samaritans 116 123 or PIPS Upper Bann 028 3831 0151