When a man who was prepared to end his life by jumping from the top of a parking garage came down from the ledge and thanked Transit Police Sgt. Steven O’Hara for helping him, it hit O’Hara hard.
“I hope I gave him another chance. … You know, maybe I gave him a shot at a better life,” said O’Hara.
The modest sergeant credited his formal training with the FBI, to deal with crisis and hostage negotiations, for his heroic efforts.
“I truly believe training is instrumental in all policing. I felt comfortable talking to him based on that,” he said.
O’Hara will be honored by the MBTA Transit Police in May and receive a certificate of commendation for his quick thinking during the incident at the Quincy Center Station Parking Garage on April 5.
According to Transit Police reports, around 1:45 a.m. that day, O’Hara was called to the scene where a man was allegedly sitting on the edge of the building with both feet hanging over.
O’Hara said that as he approached, the man said if anyone got near him or tried to grab him he would jump off the roof.
“The first minute or two is the most critical. I stayed far away from him,” said O’Hara. “I stayed my distance. I made him feel comfortable.”
For the next 15 minutes, as the fate of the jumper’s life dangled above the ground, O’Hara talked with the victim, establishing a rapport and making him feel at ease.
After some time, the suicidal man stepped away from the edge and was later transported to an area hospital for evaluation.
As he stepped into the ambulance, O’Hara said the man turned to him and said “thank you.”
“It was a great feeling to use my training and experience to help someone like that,” said O’Hara.
It was the first time O’Hara has had to put his skills to use in a real-life scenario.