Truckers lined up their vehicles beneath an Interstate 696 overpass between Oak Park and Huntington Woods early Tuesday to keep a man from jumping.
Michigan State Police posted a Road Commission for Oakland County photo on their Twitter feed that showed 13 trucks lined up beneath the overpass near the Coolidge Road exit off Interstate 696.
“This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public,” the MSP Metro Detroit tweet said. “But also in that photo a man is struggling with the decision to take his own life.”
State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said that troopers lined the truckers up beneath the overpass. Troopers have been implementing the move with potential jumpers for decades.
“When we start to shut the freeway down and see the truckers exiting we flag them over,” he said, “Most of the time when we do this we only need only one or two semi trucks and its over fairly quickly.”
But the suicidal man on the Coolidge Road overpass took a couple of hours before he was ready to come down, police said. State troopers responded to the area after receiving 911 calls.
Having the trucks in position means a suicidal person thinking of jumping would only fall several feet if they jumped or fell, rather than drop onto the concrete freeway below, Shaw said.
Chris Harrison said in a post on the Twisted Trucker Facebook page that he was one of the drivers who lined up beneath the overpass.
The incident reportedly took place from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday, with Fox2Detroit.com reporting the freeway reopened at 4 a.m.
Harrison said he just happened to be driving one of the trucks near the front after state police stopped traffic on the east and west side of the freeway while they were dealing with the would-be jumper.
“The cops came up and waved 6 or 7 of us through and then stopped us under the bridge,” Harrison wrote in his post. “Same thing on the westbound side.”
As the truckers sat in their vehicles beneath the overpass, troopers and officers from Huntington Woods and Oak Park eventually got the man down.
Shaw said officers serving Huntington Woods took the man to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
State police urge people to remember that help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
“If you are feeling that bad,” Shaw said, “reach out to someone instead of ending up on an overpass.”
State police didn’t intend on their use of tractor-trailer drivers in such situations to get out, but Shaw said it was unavoidable given the prevalence of cellphone photos and social media.
“Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence,” he said. “It happens several times a month in the area I cover in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.”