QUICK thinking to a city taxi driver led to a sequence of heroic events that saved a man’s life (20 Jun 2008)
Friday, June 20, 2003
Quick thinking by taxi driver and gardaí averted suicide bid

QUICK thinking to a city taxi driver led to a sequence of heroic events that saved a man’s life when he threatened and then attempted to commit suicide in the river Suir close to Rice Bridge five years ago.

For their bravery Noel Hearne of Larchville, Sgt. Cyril Meehan, Gda. Seamus Ronan and Gda. Karen O’Brien received certificates from the Mayor, Cllr. Oliver Clery on Monday. The story of their heroic deed is as follows: “At 12.45 a.m. on Sunday June 7, 1998 a Waterford man got into a taxi in Waterford city. During the course of a conversation with the driver, he stated that he wished to be brought to Rice Bridge for the purpose of committing suicide.

Noel Hearne, the taxi driver, drove away from the bridge in an effort to remove his passenger from danger. While stopped at a junction the man jumped from the taxi and ran towards the bridge. Mr. Hearne informed the gardai of the event and within minutes Sergeant Cyril Meehan and gardai Seamus Ronan and Karen O’Brien were at the scene.

On arrival they saw the man standing on the pavement looking over the railings into the River Suir below. On seeing the gardai, he scaled a four-foot high pedestrian control barrier and climbed over the railings.

The man showed signs of being agitated and was under the influence of alcohol. Garda Ronan located a lifebuoy. Garda O’Brien and Mr. Hearne kept talking and pleading with him to come down. Sergeant Meehan formed the opinion that the man was determined to jump off the ridge into the water below so he proceeded to crawl under the pedestrian control barrier in an attempt to approach the man discreetly from behind.

Sergeant Meehan managed to grab hold of the man, but he resisted violently and jumped forward off the bridge and was suspended over the water below with nothing supporting him other than the grip Sergeant Meehan had on him around his shoulders and neck.

Sergeant Meehan was almost pulled over the railings with the weight of the man, who was between twelve and thirteen stone in weight. Garda O’Brien, Garda Ronan and Mr. Hearne came to assist Sergeant Meehan get the man over the railing to safety. The man was handcuffed and taken to Waterford Garda Station for his own safety. He was subsequently transferred to St. Declan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Waterford.

There was considerable risk to the life of Sergeant Meehan. He was in grave danger of being pulled over the railings due to the violent struggle of the man, but there was no doubt that his actions saved the young man’s life.

The other three persons involved in the rescue played a vital role in keeping him calm and distracted, giving Sergeant Meehan time to approach him discretely. Garda Ronan had secured a life buoy to the ridge in the event that he did jump into the water.

All three of them jumped onto the bridge and helped pull the man back to safety. There was a risk that any of them could have been pulled over the railings. There is no doubt that but for the actions of Sergeant Cyril Meehan, Gda. Karen O’Brien, Gda. Seamus Ronan and Noel Hearne the man would have lost his life.

More information at http://archives.tcm.ie/waterfordnews/2003/06/20/story10845.asp
A Kildare Water Safety Initative - Irish Water Safety Approved - Created & Sponsored by Graphic Workshop, www.beprepared.ie & www.throwbags.ie
Origin - Yes we can!