PC who talked suicidal Letchworth man out of jumping off bridge over A1(M) receives national award

PC Matthew Hopkins

PC Matthew Hopkins - Credit: Archant

A police officer who talked a suicidal Letchworth man out of jumping to his death from a bridge crossing the A1(M) has received a top national award.

PC Matthew Hopkins has been credited with preventing what could have turned into a major motorway disaster had the distressed man jumped off the Baldock Lane bridge onto busy lunchtime traffic.

Last week PC Hopkins was awarded with a Royal Humane Society certificate of commendation for the way he handled the incident.

Back in October police had received an emergency call from the man who was crying hysterically and asked them to tell his mother that he was sorry.

PC Hopkins was shortly on the scene and saw the man, who appeared unsteady on his feet, on the wrong side of the bridge railings directly over the carriageway.

Describing what happened next Royal Humane Society secretary Dick Wilkinson said : “He appeared to be crying and continually looking down at the traffic. PC Hopkins was convinced that he was going to jump so, each time he looked away PC Hopkins moved closer.

“He told the man he needed to get closer so he could hear him over the traffic noise. He did this very gradually so he wouldn’t further alarm him. Once he was close enough to speak more normally he listened to the man and tried to build a rapport.

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“He was aware that other police units were on their way to stop the motorway traffic. He could not establish why the man wanted to kill himself, but he explained to him that if he jumped he could end up causing serious injury to someone else in a vehicle passing underneath them.

“Eventually, although the man would not climb back over the railings PC Hopkins persuaded him to walk along the ledge to the end of the bridge and, in spite of being of a much lighter build, he persuaded the man to let him hold onto him to prevent him falling.

“Once at the end of the bridge he helped him back over the railings. The man was then very thankful and emotional and, although uninjured, was later taken to hospital for assessment.”