Published: 13:50, 21 May 2019
| Updated: 10:48, 15 October 2019
Sick passers-by urged a troubled man to jump from the Dartford Crossing while heroes tried to talk him down from the situation.
Drivers experienced delays on Friday afternoon when the bridge was closed due to concerns for the welfare of a man - a dad of three in his late 20s - who was later brought to safety.
Since then friends have come forward to praise two men who were first on the scene and persuaded the man to come away from the edge of the bridge, but they also revealed how others passing the scene had yelled heartless abuse.
One friend of the man who wished to remain anonymous said: "Whilst he was on the bridge cars were driving past telling him to just jump or get it over with, or 'does he need a push' and I am deeply saddened by this.
"He is a man that always tries to prove he is a strong person and can handle everything so no one was aware of his true feelings.
"A family man that works to provide for his wife and three children.
"We want to say thank you to the two separate men that got out of their cars and persuaded him back over the rail. They are heroes and we are so grateful.
"Just wish there was more people like that unlike the terrible human beings that was the opposite.
"We owe them everything.
"They spoke to him about normal things - things related to his life, his best friend, his children."
But she said it was upsetting people were telling him to jump, considering how much mental health issues have been publicised.
"People in cars were shouting 'just get it over and done with because you're going to cause traffic in rush hour.'
He could have thought, 'you're right, I'll get it over with' and that could have pushed him over the edge."
Goal-keeping coach Stuart Owens, one of those first on the scene, had been driving back home to Sussex after a meal with his daughter in Essex, when he noticed a man at the side of the bridge.
"I'd driven a different way to the way I normally would because I followed the sat-nav, which meant I got to bridge five minutes early," said Stuart, 44.
"A guy called Stacey had seen what I'd seen and stopped in the fast lane.
"I stopped behind him and we both jumped out and went across the road. I'm not great with heights so as soon as I got out my legs went.
"We were stood there looking at this poor fellow who had got himself in that position where there was no turning back.
"He was leaning over the edge and holding on with his fingers - the ends of his fingers.
"Me and Stacey were looking at each other thinking the same thing - there's no chance we can grab him, because if he goes then you're going with him.
"The only reason that bridge should have been at a standstill was because everyone had stopped and got out, not because the police closed it, but getting to a lunch or hair appointment is more important for some" - Stuart Owens
"We just talked to him and pleaded with him that whatever he was going through wouldn't be as bad tomorrow; that no matter what it was, it would be something we could help him with.
"We're both older and have been through things. We ended up telling him a lot about us.
"Stacey took the lead and we sat down next to him, then he sat down too - it was a relief, but I was still sitting there thinking how is he looking so relaxed sat there 700ft over a load of plant machinery.
"We got him back over the rail. By this time there was a plain clothes policeman there - he just let us guide him over the rail and get him in the car."
Stuart said he had also been affected by the attitude of some passers-by, adding: "There were a few that weren't being particularly human.
"I just pray that one day they're not in a similar situation and there's no one there for them.
"We watched thousands of cars go past and do nothing.
"The only reason that bridge should have been at a standstill was because everyone had stopped and got out, not because the police closed it, but getting to a lunch or hair appointment is more important for some.
"Physically shouting shows a level of inhumanity or base intelligence, which there's enough of in this country."
Although heavily affected by the event, he remains thankful to have been able to help.
"Me and Stacey have spoken to him since and he's accepting some help so hopefully that's the first part of moving forward again," said Stuart.
"We're made up about that. You pray that what you've done is something that has a lasting affect.
"I'm not a massive believer in fate but sometimes you've got to hold your hands up and say that was a bizarre set of circumstances that put me right there at that time."
If you are struggling and need to speak to someone contact the Samaritans here or call 116 123.
More by this authorChris Hunter
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