In Fresno, California, a group of middle school boys were in the middle of volleyball practice when their lives changed forever.
The boys were out for a warmup run before practice began when they noticed a woman hanging from the Stanislaus Bridge, just a block away from the Tuolumne Street Bridge they were running on.
Suspended over 100 feet in the air, the woman’s feet were already dangling—and it was clear that she was preparing to drop when they realized what was going on.
“She was like, one hand, and feet hanging already,” explained student Brandy Ezell.
“I realized what was going on when her foot started dangling,” Joshua Velasquez, another student present, said. “Then after that, we all ran down as a team to go tell our coach.”
Horrified and desperate to stop the situation unfolding, the boys ran to their coach, school athletic director Murray Elliott, to report what they’d seen. From there, they all sprang into action together.
Day 1 Basketball practice with coach Elliot Murray.
While he called 9-1-1, Elliott told the boys to return to the woman and attempt to stop her jump until help could arrive. And although that seems like a tall order for a group of young teens, they stepped up to save a life—and while Elliott got a hold of first responders, they began to make an impassioned plea to the woman to keep her on the bridge.
“I said immediately, ‘Go back up and get her attention. Tell her her life matters,’” Murray said in an interview with TODAY. “So for a whole 10 minutes or so, they did not stop yelling, screaming, telling her, ‘Your life matters.’”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has cautioned against making depressed individuals feel like a burden when talking them away from suicide, and the volleyballers handled that perfectly. Crying out to her that her life mattered, they gave the woman on the bridge pause as she realized the gravity of her actions—and after she registered what they were saying, began to pull herself back up onto the bridge.
Members of Kepler School’s Volleyball team helped save a life. During practice Thursday afternoon, the students acted…
The story was later corroborated by the local police department, who explained that the woman has since been placed under psychiatric evaluation due to the incident.
“We contacted her, found out she was actually trying to commit suicide and the officer placed her on a mental health evaluation hold for 72 hours to be evaluated by mental health workers,” Fresno Police Department’s Lieutenant Mark Hudson said via the Fresno Bee.
While the woman is getting help for her depression, though, the young boys are being heralded as heroes—and are busy serving as a perfect example of how the current generation is working to make the world a better place.
We couldn’t be more proud of these young men. #KeplerProud
“A miracle happened! Our scholars were part of saving a life,” says coach Elliot Murray, via a Kepler Neighborhood School Facebook post. “We pour our hearts into the lives of these kids every day and they stepped up in a way they’ll never forget. I’m so proud of them.”
The school’s director of Student Services echoed the sentiment, applauding the students for acting quickly in a scary situation.
“These young men stepped up when no one else could,” Yeager said in a news release. “Words fail to do justice how incredibly proud we are of these Kepler scholars and Coach Elliot’s leadership.”
Suicide remains a legitimate threat, especially among teens. But thanks to incredible young adults like these ones, the stigma of providing help—even when the situation may seem terrifying—is starting to shatter.
Middle school volleyball players in Fresno were working out over the weekend when they spotted a woman in distress on a bridge
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 8, 2019