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In what is being widely hailed as an “Easter Miracle,” a freshman at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus saved a woman from committing suicide.
During a Sunday afternoon jog, 19-year-old Thomas Stolee came across a young woman who looked as though she was about to jump from a bridge into the Mississippi River below. Without a cell phone to call for help, Stolee talked to her for a half-hour, trying to keep her calm. Several people passed by without offering assistance. Eventually, a group of bicyclists rode by, and Stolee was able to get their attention and mouth the word “help.” Then, the young woman lifted her leg over the final barrier, poised to make the plunge. Stolee sprung into action, grabbing her and pulling her to safety. Campus police arrived moments later.
From Duluth News Tribune:
“It was go-time,” Stolee said. “So I lunged, grabbed her and pulled her back.”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Stolee said he never felt personally in danger of falling off the bridge during the ordeal. He estimated the woman weighed around 130 pounds.
She broke down sobbing and offered no resistance, as Stolee pulled her to safety.
Stolee is a campus security guard, but he was off-duty at the time of the incident. His superiors in the campus security program, as well as his father, a member of the Duluth Police Department, are deeply proud of him for rising to the occasion, but Stolee has hardly finished processing what happened.
Stolee works on campus as a security monitor, but Justin Yarrington, manager of the security program, noted that the student wasn’t on duty at the time of the incident.
“The fact that he stopped when he saw someone in trouble says a lot about his character,” Yarrington said. “It shows that he cares about helping others and doing the right thing.”
Although the incident ended well, Stolee said it took a while to mentally process after it was over.
“It was definitely the most stressful thing I’ve ever been through,” he said.
When he got home, Stolee called his father, a member of the Duluth Police Department.
Sgt. Tom Stolee said his son sounded out of breath.
“When he called me, I could certainly detect the stress in his voice. There are physiological reactions that go along with something like that,” Sgt. Stolee said. He explained that the body’s response to a high-stress situation can be similar to that of strenuous physical activity.
“Your heart rate and blood pressure and everything are all going to be up, and you just need to breathe deeply and almost use meditation tactics to bring yourself back down,” Sgt. Stolee said.
He also advised his son to stop running over the events in his mind and thinking about how things could have gone differently.
“There’s no use in stressing about the what-ifs,” Stolee told his son.
Patricia Stolee, Tom’s mother, referred to her son’s actions Sunday as nothing short of “an Easter miracle.”
Just amazing. It’s incredibly fortunate that somebody happened to be there as the woman was about to make the leap, and it’s even more fortunate that somebody was as equipped to handle the situation as Stolee. He was in campus security — how many freshman do you know who work security on campus? — so he clearly has a passion for protecting others. And now he’s a hero at the age of 19.
On top of that, all he can think about now is “what if I wasn’t there?” He’s not bothering to congratulate himself. He cares far more about the well-being of a complete stranger, even after the incident. That’s what you call humility..
[via Duluth News Tribune]
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