NewsLocal News


Exclusive: UHP trooper talks would-be jumper off overpass

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-19 21:30:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY — On July 7, troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol responded to a call of a man on the side of a freeway overpass trying to jump off.

When they arrived, they were having little luck getting him to move back across a tall fence, and going out to get him would have been very dangerous.

That's when Trooper Vu Bowers, a 22-year veteran with UHP, arrived.

“It was really challenging and difficult to get to him… And so I thought I would probably try to build rapport,” Bowes told FOX 13 in an exclusive interview.

Using empathy instead of force, he was able to coax him back off the fence, and officers were able to grab him and bring him back over the wall.

Bowers was previously part of Operation Rio Grande patrolling the downtown area, and he recognized the man attempting to take his life from his time there.

“I started out in this career wanting to go after the bad guys, get the criminals. As I get older, I reflect, and now working down at Rio for a couple years, I really enjoy trying to get people help,” Bowers said. “Just building that relationship, whether it be professional or have some type of empathy, I think goes a long way.”

The whole incident was caught on the trooper's body camera video.

"Come on man, you remember me from Rio," Bowers can be heard saying in the footage as he asked the suicidal man his name and if he remembered him.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to work,” Bowers admitted. “But I asked him if he could just come over the other side of the barrier so we can help him.”

Incredibly, the man was unharmed after the whole ordeal and ultimately was transported to a mental health facility where he voluntarily admitted himself.

UHP says he is on the road to recovery and getting the help he needs.

“Our number one thing is to preserve life and try to help the individual and at the same time keeping ourselves safe,” Bowers said.

While this was a heroic action on the part of Bowers and the other troopers involved, he says it was just another day on the job.

Help is available for those experiencing suicidal thoughts. Resources:

Utah Statewide Crisis Line / National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Call 24/7 to speak to a licensed crisis counselor if you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide, are experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis, or are feeling overwhelmed and need support.

Utah Warm Line: 801-587-1055

  • Open 7-days a week, from 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Call to speak with a certified peer support specialist.
  • This service is for people who are not in crisis, but seeking emotional support, engagement, or encouragement. Certified peer specialists offer support and empower callers to resolve problems by fostering a sense of hope, dignity, and self-respect.

Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams (MCOT)

  • Triaged and dispatched through the Utah Statewide CrisisLine by calling 1-800-273-8255, teams are available for dispatch in Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, and Utah counties, and the southwest region of Utah, including St. George and surrounding cities.
  • Due to COVID-19, crisis counselors on the CrisisLine will ask health screening questions to determine if an in-person or telehealth response is most beneficial. MCOT staff will wear the CDC’s recommended universal precautions to include goggles, masks, gloves, and gowns to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community and health care workforce.

SafeUT (Crisis Chat and School Safety Tip app)

  • The SafeUT Crisis Chat and Tip Line is a statewide service that provides real-time crisis intervention to youth (public K-12 and higher education) through live chat and a confidential tip program – right from your smartphone.
  • Licensed crisis counselors are available 24/7 to respond to all incoming chats, tips, and calls by providing supportive or crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and referral services.
  • Support is also available to parents and educators of students in public K-12 and higher education.
  • Free and available for download from the Google Play Store and the App Store.