Tom Fleet, from West Row, is receiving an award for stopping a woman jump from a bridge
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A passerby who risked his own life to prevent a woman jumping off a bridge onto traffic below will be honoured tomorrow for his act of bravery.
Tom Fleet, from West Row, near Bury St Edmunds, was only 18 years old when he saved the woman who had climbed over the railing of a bridge in Red Lodge which goes over the A11.
Tomorrow, he will be presented with a Royal Humane Society Award for an act of bravery in the saving of human life at the Suffolk Constabulary Awards Ceremony at police headquarters in Martlesham Heath.
Mr Fleet, an engineer, was driving with his girlfriend Peggy-May Mutton in the car when he spotted a woman walking towards the bridge which raised alarm bells as he said from there “there’s nowhere to go”.
He kept his eye on her and as he was halfway down the slip road onto the A11 he saw she had climbed over the railing.
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“I said to my girlfriend ‘oh my God, she’s going to jump. I have got to do something’. I literally put my brakes on and stuck it in reverse and went back up the slip road.”
He parked up and, as he approached the woman, who he guessed was in her late 20s or early 30s, he realised how delicate the situation was.
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“You don’t know whether to say something,” Mr Fleet said. “My girlfriend said to me ‘just be very careful when you go over’ and I ran up to her and I just tried to make contact.”
He spoke to her calmly, but there was no response. As she was standing on the ledge she leant forwards, and Mr Fleet’s natural instinct was to run up to her and wrap his arms under hers.
“There was a point when I thought we were both going to go,” he added.
He stayed holding her for the best part of half an hour before the police came and took over after his girlfriend had contacted them. The woman was taken to hospital.
Talking of his actions on January 3, 2013, Mr Fleet said: “Obviously I’m not just thinking about the person in question, I’m thinking about the people driving under as well. I don’t want to see that. No-one wants to see that, and anyone would do the same wouldn’t they? I hope they would. It’s difficult unless you are in the situation.”
Mr Fleet, 20, who is “over the moon” to receive the award, said he “will never forget” what happened that day, adding it has definitely had an impact on his life.
“Life is worth living and at the end of the day no matter how bad something gets it just shows even at that point it can still be turned around, and hopefully it has been turned around,” he said.
Mr Fleet said he would be interested in making contact with the woman, to know she is alright.
•If you are that woman contact reporter Mariam Ghaemi on email@example.com
Panel on recipients
Other award winners at tomorrow’s ceremony include Pc Christopher Squirrell and police dog Daley, Special Constable Gary Lee, who is based in Mildenhall, control room operator Nina Sneddon and Drena Black, who works with domestic and sexual abuse victims.
Pc Squirrell and Daley are being recognised for work including locating a man armed with a sledgehammer who had threatened people and caused extensive damage.
Sp Con Lee will collect the Godfrey Cup for his “exceptional” performance when dealing with a call over the radio involving a drink driver who had made off from a police officer, including pursuing the driver on foot.
Ms Sneddon, who is receiving the Archant Award for police staff, has demonstrated “excellent” call handling ability and Ms Black is described as the backbone of Waveney Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum.
Also, the first Nishan Wijeratne Award - in memory of Nishan Wijeratne who worked in the corporate communications team - will be presented to Chief Inspector Chris Spinks of the Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit.
A number of police leadership awards will also be presented during the evening.