Local men help save man on bridge
STEVENSVILLE — Police, fire and rescue units responded to rescue a man who was clinging to a support beam off the William Preston Lane Jr. (Chesapeake Bay) Bridge early Thursday morning, May 26. Due to the alertness of two travelers on the bridge and a quick and cohesive response from rescue teams the man was able to be brought to safety.
Jason Hayes and Lieutenant Kevin Brenner were the first to stop when they spotted a man out of his car and climbing over the side of the Bay Bridge.
At a press conference held Thursday afternoon at the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, Hayes and Brenner relayed the events of that morning.
Brenner, a lieutenant who has been with Queen Anne’s County Department of EMS for 10 years, was on his way to work when he saw Hayes stopped next to a vehicle on the bridge. Hayes, a disabled Army veteran and Centreville resident, currently residing in Ridgely, was traveling home. Hayes travels several mornings to be a part of support group for veterans with PTSD.
Hayes had seen the vehicle stopped on the road and thought that someone was broken down. “I’m afraid of heights,” Hayes said, “so I nearly didn’t stop.” That’s when Hayes locked eyes with a man standing on the side of the bridge, at that moment Hayes said he knew he needed to offer his assistance.
“This morning I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” Hayes said.
Hayes got out of his vehicle and began talking to a man who was contemplating jumping off the bridge. Hayes said the man was over the railing and several feet down under the roadway on a steel beam. “I had to lean over the side to talk to him,” Hayes said. “Never, ever did I think that at 6:30 in the morning, I would be hanging over the side of the Bay Bridge, but I immediately felt a sense of compassion for this man.”
Shortly after Hayes stopped to assist, Brenner pulled over also. Traffic was still moving on the bridge, and Brenner was able to use his radio to confirm that help was being dispatched. Hayes and Brenner began taking turns keeping the man engaged in conversation. They were able to speak with the man about his faith and family and provide reassurance that it was OK to get help.
Both Hayes and Brenner agreed that every minute felt like an hour. In reality, Brenner said, within an hour and a half the patient was off the bridge and in the back of an EMS unit.
“We were extremely fortunate to have a good outcome,” he said.
The technical rescue team that responded to the top of the bridge was from Station 23 in Anne Arundel County. Brenner said the responders deferred to himself and Hayes since they had established a rapport with the man, and they continued to keep him engaged while the team set up their rigs.
“We asked him to straddle the beam and face towards the bridge, instead of looking out towards the water,” said Hayes, “We felt like it was very important not to lose contact and continue the conversation while the rescue teams got in place.”
Brenner said he was holding his breath as Captain Dave Chen got the harness [that would lift the man to safety] in place.
“When I saw Chen shake his hand and give him a hug, calming him down, I knew we were in a much better position,” said Brenner. “It was touching to know we were able to break down the barriers and really reach a favorable outcome.”
“It was great to be able to help somebody and have a positive outcome,” said Brenner who had the rest of his 24-hour shift to complete after he finally made his way into work.
“I don’t know if I saved a life today,” said Hayes, “but I am proud to stand next to Lt. Brenner. Today was an eye opener for me, I am feeling humbled, blessed and very lucky to have been able to be there today.”
Left, Jason Hayes and Lieutenant Kevin Brenner, are interviewed by Chris Gordon, NBC news Channel 4, Washington D.C., about their involvement Thursday, May 26, in the rescue of a man from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.