Camaraderie, support along the long road

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Updated Jun 29, 2021
This image, a screen grab from CBS local coverage of the incident, shows 13 truckers assisting in the wee hours early Tuesday, April 25, the Michigan State Police effort to cushion a bridge jumper’s potential fall onto I-696 near Coolidge, Mich.This image, a screen grab from CBS local coverage of the incident, shows 13 truckers assisting in the wee hours early Tuesday, April 25, the Michigan State Police effort to cushion a bridge jumper’s potential fall onto I-696 near Coolidge, Mich.

You recall the recent reporting from Michigan detailing a remarkable display of teamwork in the service of a troubled life.

The photo above shows the scene in the wee hours Tuesday morning on I-696 in Coolidge, Mich., where a suicide attempt was in progress, shutting down the road for hours. As that road was being shut down, however, as reported, state police sprung into action, commandeering tractor-trailers pulling vans or reefers to raise the floor, so to speak, under the jumper’s feet in the event he actually jumped or fell.

If you didn’t as yet, you can hear Detroit-based WWJ AM’s interview with Lieutenant Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police below.

As you’ll hear in the interview and as was reported by Deanne Winslett Wednesday here, it’s not the first time the Michigan police have attempted to cushion a jumper’s potential fall in this manner (this individual walked away unscathed, ultimately), and it’s not often you see such a display of teamwork on offer. Kudos are well-deserved for the truckers who participated — not that they had much of a choice, Shaw told WWJ. At once, he continued, most are happy to oblige. I imagine the time spent assisting might beat dealing with the the inevitable traffic tie-ups in the area resulting from any significant freeway closure.

Has your rig ever been marshaled into service in such a manner? If you’re reading on a smartphone, tap the image to call and paint the scene for us in a a message on our podcast line with your story. If you’re on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Make sure to tell us your name and state of residence.Has your rig ever been marshaled into service in such a manner? If you’re reading on a smartphone, tap the image to call and paint the scene for us in a a message on our podcast line with your story. If you’re on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Make sure to tell us your name and state of residence.

I’m reminded of a similar event in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the McFarland Ave. exit way back in 2009, and another in Minneapolis three years later.

Such events show what is possible when the trucking community and enforcement come together in a single individual’s moment of need, and a much better result than the carnage that follows when such events don’t get that far — for the family and friends left behind, and all too often for the operator of any truck involved, as Overdrive‘s 2016 feature on the tragic “suicide by truck” phenomenon made clear.

Depression and sometimes resulting suicidal ideation and action on it are no joke, ultimately — as Detroit CBS’ coverage noted, the national suicide prevention hotline is open for folks looking for a willing ear in a time of need. That number: (800) 273-8255 / text to 741-741.

In the trucking community, the “Truckers for Truckers” support group was founded by hauler Michael Suson for those dealing with depression and suicidal ideation. The active group you can find on Facebook at this link. Suson talked with videographer and former hauler Tex Crowley at the 2016 Guilty by Association Truck Show:

Trucker/singer-songwriter Tony Justice ended up writing a song in part inspired in part by Suson’s efforts, one he co-wrote with his wife, Misty. It’s one of my  favorites among his original tracks, a version shared recently from his performance of it at MATS, where he opened his Red Eye Radio booth acoustic set with it. He did the same at GATS this past year. Hearing it, well, at least makes me a little happier to be alive and to be able to listen, to sing along, to laugh, to love, to dance. Enjoy his GATS performance of it below.

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