If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 988 or visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah’s website at namiut.org
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Two Utah Transit Authority (UTA) employees were honored and recognized by the company after they helped save a life in Salt Lake City in April of this year.
Ediri Oyake, a TRAX operator, and Chris Charlesworth, a TRAX Operations Supervisor, played vital roles in saving the life of a man who was contemplating suicide early in the morning of Saturday, April 29.
Oyake was driving the Green Line train heading southbound just before 7 a.m. as it rounded the corner on 400 West and South Temple. Oyake reportedly noticed a man laying down at the top of a nearby parking garage, with his legs hanging over the edge. UTA Light Rail Operations Manager Tony Berger said Oyake immediately reported the situation to the dispatcher and said the situation “looked very dangerous.”
“In that intersection, there is a lot going on,” said Berger. “There’s obviously traffic, there are traffic signals, there are train signals, they’re going around a curve, so there’s a lot going on that Ediri should be watching for. To do that safely and to notice someone laying on this parking garage was exceptional.”
Chris Charlesworth heard the call over his radio and rushed to the scene. When he arrived, Charlesworth agreed the situation felt dangerous. He saw the man’s legs over the edge of the building and his shoes were on the ground, a few stories below. Charlesworth called the UTA Transit Police for help and immediately began talking to the man.
After gaining his trust, Charlesworth went to the top of the parking garage to continue talking with the man. Charlesworth said the situation was confusing and at one point, the man almost jumped.
“He told me to get back so I continued to walk backward to give him that space,” said Charlesworth. “I continued to ask questions and try to get to know him a little bit, change his mindset, get him to a point of realization of what he is thinking and what he maybe had to lose if he did do that decision.”
After several minutes, Charlesworth was able to talk the man away from the edge. Transit Police arrived and helped convince the man to let them take him to safety, saving his life.
Charlesworth said we all need to take care of each other, be kind, and take action if you ever see the opportunity.
“Just check in and make sure somebody is okay,” said Charlesworth. “They’ll tell you if they’re OK or not. If you can identify it, trust your gut. There’s an importance to being able to listen to that feeling and to be able to see and respond instead of just walking by and ignoring it because it may be a real situation you could make a difference with.”
UTA said it was proud to honor both Oyake and Charlesworth for being alert, aware, and responsive to their surrounding and possibly preventing a suicide attempt by giving emergency personnel enough time to respond and save the man’s life.
Chris Charlesworth was able to attend the meeting where he was honored and shared his experiences. Berger said Oyake was, unfortunately, unable to attend.