REDMOND, Ore. - Anyone who happens to listen to police scanners or knows any police officers in Central Oregon is well aware of just how many calls involving suicidal people they must respond to in a typical day or week, in these times so troubled for so many.
At the point of crisis, some are indeed stopped from taking their own lives. Some, alas, are not.
But rarely do two men ? total strangers to each other -- and a man threatening to end it all intersect in as dramatic, life-saving fashion as did James Casner, 24, Shane Dismore and a 22-year-old suicidal man Monday night on a 70-foot-tall bridge in northwest Redmond.
They literally wrestled and argued with the intended bridge jumper ? already over the railing -- for many difficult minutes, held him back, dangling between life and death, and eventually pulled him to safety ? twice ? on the Maple Avenue Bridge.
Actually, it was not Casner?s first encounter of the night with the man, who police did not name Tuesday evening in a news release that saluted the two men as true heroes for their actions in the gathering darkness, on a graceful, arched span some 70 feet above the Dry Canyon Trail.
?Without a doubt, the suicidal male would have been able to jump off of the bridge but for the extraordinary life-saving efforts of Mr. Casner and Mr. Dismore,? wrote Sgt. Curtis Chambers.
In fact, he added, ?They risked their own lives to help save the suicidal male,? who was taken to St. Charles Medical Center-Redmond for observation.
Casner, who lives with his family near the bridge on 18th Street, says he recently got a job at the nearby Walmart and had been helping his sister with her kids during the day. Debating whether to take a nap Monday evening, he instead went for a walk when he ran into a man two houses down from theirs.
?He walked up to me, asked for a cigarette and a light,? Casner recalled Tuesday night. ?I?m a smoker ? I know it?s bad for me,? but he agreed to give him one.
?I was starting to walk away, and he told me his first and last name and said, ?I?m going to do a gainer off the bridge,?? Casner said.
?I was like, ?What?? And he was ? he gave me his name again, like it was going to be a big deal,? Casner said, noting the young man was intoxicated.
?Hey ? you know there?s no water (beneath the bridge), right?? Casner told him.
But the troubled man appeared determined; Casner recalled him saying, ?I hope life is better for you than it is for me.?
That?s when Casner ? who says he?s always thought of himself as a ?good listener,? helping friends ? made his first attempt to convince the man to change his mind and his plans, telling him his life could be better, if he didn?t give up.
For now, though, the man walked away, and Casner took the dog back to their house, which is only about 1,000 feet from the bridge.
?I stewed about it, was going to walk down there,? Casner said ? and so he did.
?Before I even stepped foot on the bridge, I heard a scream,? he later recalled. ?I thought, ?He?s already jumped!? My heart jumped -- it skipped a beat. ?No way, he already jumped!??
Casner said he could tell someone was walking up from the other side of the bridge, because the lights were flickering.
Casner said he reached the man on the bridge seconds after Dismore did: ?As I was walking up, he was walking up. We almost arrived at the same exact time.?
As it turns out, Officer Tyler Kirk had gone to the area after dispatchers got a report around 9:50 p.m. of a suspicious vehicle in the area that quickly stopped, and a man ran from the scene. Chambers said Kirk checked the area but couldn?t find the car ? it was Dismore?s, who had turned around upon seeing the man climbing over the bridge and jumped out to stop him.
When he and Dismore reached the suicidal man, ?I scared him,? Casner said. ?He was sitting on the railing ? I startled him.?
But then, they saw him begin moving to jump ? so they literally reached out and stopped him.
?We were talking to him, holding onto him,? Casner said, estimating the whole encounter took 45 minutes ? at least in his mind -- ?us battling ? talking to him, trying to bring out good things, asking things like, does he have a girlfriend??
They learned that indeed, not only was the man having problems with his girlfriend, he has two children.
?As soon as he said that, I said, ?No matter what?s going on in your life right now, you?ve got to be there for those two kids! It?s hard not to have a relationship with somebody and still be there for the kids, but no matter how much, you can be there in their life ? you can have a big impact.??
While all this was going on, Deschutes County dispatchers got a call of someone intoxicated in the area of Rimrock Court, the same area as the previous call. Lt. Mike Kidwell went to help Officer Kirk, Chambers said.
They were in the area when 911 got another call, just before 10 p.m., reporting a man was on the outside railing of the bridge, trying to jump, and two others were holding onto him, Chambers said.
The officers soon arrived and found Casner and Dismore holding the man, who was trying to break free of their grasp. The four were able to pull the other man back over the railing, Chambers said.
Casner said that actually was the second time they?d been able to pull the man back over the railing during the lengthy struggle.
?Probably about 20 minutes before they (police) got there, before a cop drove past? ? not aware in the darkness of what was happening ? the man already was dangling over the bridge.
?The only thing keeping him from falling was our arms holding onto his arms,? Casner said. ?He was softly saying, ?Please, just let me go.? We said, ?It?s not worth throwing your life away.??
Whenever the man looked away, Casner said he tried to use his free hand (when it was free) to wave down passing cars, ?trying to get them to do something. I didn?t want to get the cell phone out. For him to see that, and recognize I was trying to call 911, it might hype him up even more.?
Casner said he had a ?good foothold, feet on the railing, pushed with his legs, pulled with his arms and got the man?s stomach atop the railing, his arm over the man?s shoulder.
And through this, Casner recalled the man saying things like, ?I don?t know why you guys are here ? I don?t even know you.?
Casner told him, ?You don?t have to die. We can be friends. You can come over ? my house is not that far away.?
On Tuesday, with all that turmoil still fresh in his mind, Casner said, ?I don?t know how I got any sleep.?
Casner said he was ?truly grateful? that Dismore also was in the right place at the right time, to help stop the suicide ? and it was only on this night that he learned Dismore also happens to work at the Redmond Walmart.
While police hail the two men as heroes, Casner says he wonders what the very troubled man, not that much younger than him, is thinking about what happened, and how he was stopped from ending his life -- at the same spot where, a couple of years ago, someone indeed did commit suicide, according to police Lt. Nathan Garibay.
?I wonder if he?s bitter about what we did, for saving him, or came out of his drunkenness? and is thankful, said Casner, who also came away with some aches and bruises during the fateful struggle. ?I?m feeling pretty proud, but at the same time, I?m feeling pretty bad.?
But on Wednesday morning, a surprisingly fast answer came, in a KTVZ.COM comment posted by Corrin Trollope, a family member of Trevor Trollope, the man in the middle of the drama, who thanked the two men "from the bottom of my heart!"
"I wouldn't be here it if weren't for you two strangers!" she quoted him as saying. "It is no exaggeration for you to be called heroes, you are! And yes, I wanted to jump, but I now realize how many people truly care about my well-being.
"I don't know if it is possible to ever repay you, but would do my heart a great deal to try! I owe you my life."
And he signed it, "FOREVER IN DEBT TO YOU."
See and hear more on this dramatic story Wednesday night on NewsChannel 21 at 10 and 11.