Retired marine James Sperry says something made him take Eads Bridge last Tuesday instead of his usual route home.
That decision might have helped save a life.
On Tuesday, Sperry was driving home to Illinois on the Eads Bridge when he saw a man on the outside of the rail, and another man trying to help.
He didn’t hesitate to pull over.
“First thing I did was put my foot on the ledge, hook his arm and said ‘Hey brother, I’m a Marine, I’ve lost 40 friends, spent two years in the hospital, I’ve been exactly where you are right now,” said Sperry.
Sperry was 19 years old when he was shot in the head and chest during the Battle of Fallujah.
He and his fellow Marines thought that was it. But Sperry survived. That though was just the beginning.
Like many, Sperry suffered from PTSD.
That experience is what he used to talk the man down from the ledge last week, ignoring the icy waters of the Mississippi below.
“Does he go in the river, do I go after him? because I was trained in the Marine Corp as a swimmer,” Sperry said he likely would have jumped in after him.
But it didn’t come to that. With the help of two other strangers, they were able to bring the man back over the ledge just as police arrived on scene.
“He never said a word, the whole time we were there, I just gave him a hug,” Sperry said. “I knew he needed hope. He needed to understand people cared about him even though we were strangers.”
Sperry has used what he calls his borrowed time to help others, from fellow veterans to a person stranded with a flat tired.
“I feel like there’s a reason why I’m here, there’s a reason why I’m left here,” Sperry.
Sperry didn’t get the name of the man who tried to jump, or the other men who stopped to help, but he’s glad they were all in the right place, at the right time.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.