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November 11, 2012

Saving a life on the homefront

Bradford soldier talks woman off bridge using her military training


Last year, Boyle was deployed overseas for convoy operations, transporting tanks and heavy equipment out of Iraq as operations there were winding down.

On Oct. 13, Boyle attended and taught an Army-approved suicide prevention and training program called “ACE” (Ask, Care, Escort) at the Worcester Armory and was on her way back to her home in Bradford. But first she stopped at her daughter’s home off of River Street for a quick visit with her grandson. Still dressed in her Army fatigues, Boyle then headed home. It was about 7:20 p.m., and Boyle was more than half way across the bridge when she saw the woman.

“I really could not believe what I was seeing,” Boyle said.

Boyle pulled her car over and parked it on the bridge, walked across the travel lanes to the side facing down river, and cautiously approached the woman without scaring her. That’s when her Army training kicked in.

“I knew I had to get personal,” Boyle said. “I told her my name, she told me hers, and it was a good 10 minutes of talking,” Boyle said.

In the meantime, drivers passing by had already called the police. Patrolman David Cox was on his way and arrived on the bridge with his cruiser’s emergency lights off, so as not to startle the woman.

Boyle’s training told her to engage a suicidal person in conversation, and let them talk about their life and what led up to their wanting to kill themselves.

“She told me her problems, which was a good sign,” Boyle said.

Without the woman noticing, Boyle gently grasped the back of the woman’s pullover with one hand, and placed her other hand on the woman’s arm to calm her and hopefully stop her if she tried to jump.

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