Woman clings to stranger, prevents him from jumping off bridge

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Woman clings to stranger, prevents him from jumping off bridge

By Charles Benson. CREATED Apr 28, 2014 - UPDATED: Apr 28, 2014

MILWAUKEE -- Hanging on for dear life, a passer-by saves a man dangling over I-94 on the side of a Milwaukee Bridge near Miller Park.

It was an heroic team effort by police at the Veterans Administration Hospital who pulled the distraught man to safety on Sunday. But this rescue might not have been possible without the compassion and patience of a woman determined not to let the man jump.

"He was hanging on with one hand on the bar and one hand on this side," said Jill Hewitt.

Hewitt approached the man standing on a tiny ledge on the wrong side of the fence and used every ounce of energy in her four foot eleven frame to hold onto him.

"I told him I wouldn't let him go," said Hewitt. "God meant for you not to take your own life.
It was not his time or choice to do that."

She estimates she talked for several minutes, told him she loved him and about the challenges she faced in her own life. But the man never said why he wanted to jump.

"His response typically was, No let me go. I want to die. I want to die!"

Jill never thought to call police, the Milwaukee Public School Special Education Administrator and mother was too focused on the jumper. When the VA police arrived - they came just in time.

She says police were, "absolutely phenomenal, absolutely. The officer came running. It was like he had coils on his feet and he jumped up and grabbed the man."

Jill hopes this was not the last time she see's the man who wouldn't give her his name.

"I owe him a ride on my horse."

The man was not a patient at the VA hospital but he was taken there after being rescued. TODAY'S TMJ4 is also hoping to talk with VA police officers about their heroic efforts.

Charles Benson

Charles Benson

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Charles Benson is one of the most reliable, trusted and experienced reporters in southeast Wisconsin. If there's a big story going on, Charles is usually there leading the way.