Georgia woman talks stranger out of jumping off a bridge. Could you do it?
ATLANTA - Danielle Cruz found herself in a life or death situation July 31 on a bridge towering above an Atlanta highway.
"I was driving up Interstate 85, and I was on the highest bridge of Spaghetti Junction, and I came upon a car that was pulled over," Cruz remembers.
It was pouring rain, and the car's hazard lights were flashing. That's when Cruz saw a young woman, on a cell phone, standing at the edge of the bridge,
"I instantly knew what was happening, I believed God showed me that," Cruz remembers. "I instantly knew that she was thinking about jumping off the bridge."
Cruz quickly pulled over into the emergency lane. Later, she would take a photo, posting it on Facebook with an explanation of what happened next. It would be more than 11,000 times.
"By the time I got to her, I could tell she was crying," Cruz says. "So I quickly asked her, I said, 'Ma'am, are you okay?' And she looked at me and was just sobbing. So, I just hugged her. That was the first thing I thought to do, was just hug her."
Cruz had no training or experience in this kind of thing. So, she went on instinct.
"I asked her, 'Are you thinking about jumping off this bridge?' And she said, 'Yes.'" she says.
Quietly, Cruz called 911, flagged down another driver.
"But at some point I realized I couldn't convince her to not do what she was trying to do," she says.
When a similar scene unfolded on an Orlando interstate, truck drivers lined up their rigs, to save a stranger threatening to jump. But, how do you know what to do in a moment like this?
"It really requires stepping outside your comfort zone," Licensed psychologist Dr. Wendy Dickinson with Grow Counseling says.
Dickinson says Danielle Cruz did everything right that day. She stopped, stayed calm and showed real compassion.
"One of the things I would say is, just be really direct," Dickinson says. "Let the person know you care and then ask them what their thoughts are. It's okay to ask specifically, 'Do you want to die? Have you thought about hurting yourself?"
Danielle Cruz believes her presence kept the woman from jumping until first responders arrived.
"I think she didn't want to do it, but I think she felt helpless and hopeless," she says.
The woman did not jump that day. She was taken away in an ambulance.
Danielle Cruz hasn't seen her since.
"I still feel slightly emotional about it," Cruz says.
Wendy Dickinson says Cruz's actions were heroic.
"I would say what we learn from it is that anyone can be a hero," Dickinson says. "Any of us can intervene. Any of us can help save a life."