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Calgary Transit operators talk suicidal woman down from overpass

When someone told Gerald Poetzsch that there was a woman on the ledge of the Rundle CTrain Station pedestrian overpass on Tuesday night, he knew he had to act fast.

The Calgary Transit operator parked his bus on 36 Street below the woman, in hopes that it would prevent her from falling as far.

He then left the bus – passengers and all – to go talk the woman down.

Poetzsch wasn’t the only transit operator who jumped into action. Daniel Crawford had just finished his shift and was heading home when he came upon the scene.

The woman was on the wrong side of the railing when they found her.

“He [Poetzsch] came up and grabbed her left arm and I grabbed her right arm,” said Crawford. “We just pulled her back over the railing and set her on the concrete.”

Crawford said he and Poetzsch were trying to talk to the woman as this was happeneing.

“We told her, ‘You know this isn’t worth it. You don’t want to do this. There’s people here that care for you who wouldn’t be out her pulling you back over this railing,’” he said.

Both operators gave credit to a third man, who was already on scene talking to the woman and trying to keep her from jumping.

“There was a young fellow there,” said Poetzsch. “He was talking to her and he did a really good job. He kept her until something could be done.”

Within minutes of pulling her from the ledge, Calgary transit peace officers and Calgary police were able to meet up with the woman and take her to get help.

Poetzsch had to get back to his passengers right away, and he continued on with his route until 2 a.m.

“I don’t think they realized what was going on,” he said. “I think they thought I was broken down. Everything happened so fast I was back on my bus within a few minutes.”

Doug Morgan, director of Calgary Transit, said drivers aren’t specifically trained for situations like this, but the two drivers’ quick thinking saved the day in this situation.

“There’s no specific training other than keeping people at the centre of what they do,” said Morgan. “Here they showed their heart. They saw something going on and they brought those personal values out to help a Calgarian in need. I’m super proud to be able to work with folks like this.”

He said the fact that Poetzsch went right back to work once he knew the woman was safe shows the commitment Calgary Transit staff have to people in the city.

“We’re actually celebrating Thank Your Driver Day on Friday,” he said. “This is a nice example of the kind of extra things that they do as they roam around the city.”