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School officials said students tried to help a Fresno woman who they said was possibly suicidal

Members of the Kepler School volleyball team helped stop a woman who was on the verge of committing suicide and jumping off the Stanislaus bridge in downtown Fresno.
Members of the Kepler School volleyball team helped stop a woman who was on the verge of committing suicide and jumping off the Stanislaus bridge in downtown Fresno.

A Fresno woman police described as possibly suicidal was apparently talked out from jumping off a bridge by a few middle school students, school officials said.

Twelve members of the Kepler School volleyball team were jogging Thursday as part of after-school practice along the Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno. That’s when two of the boys noticed a woman dangling about 100 feet in the air from the Stanislaus Bridge located a block over.

“Her feet were off the ground and she was holding herself up only by her arms,” said Kepler coach Elliott Murray, who is also the school’s athletic director. “And it’s not like she was holding onto a rail. She’s holding onto concrete. That’s it.

“It was scary.”

While Murray was on the phone to report the incident to 911, players began pleading and yelling for the woman to pull herself back onto the bridge.

The 47-year-old woman eventually pulled herself up.

Soon after, police arrived with two helicopters and other officers down below the bridge.

“She admitted to wanting to commit suicide,” Lt. Mark Hudson said.

Murray believes his players’ words of encouragement and pleading helped convince the woman to reconsider.

Timothy Yeager, Kepler School’s Director of Student Services, applauded Murray and the volleyball team.

“These young men stepped up when no one else could,” Yeager said in a news release. “Words fail to do justice how incredibly proud we are of these Kepler scholars and Coach Elliot’s leadership.”

Fresno police said the woman was placed on 72-hour mental health evaluation.

Bryant-Jon Anteola is a multimedia reporter for The Fresno Bee, writing stories and producing videos about sports, news and random topics relatable to those in the Fresno area. He’s won a McClatchy President’s Award and received honorable mention by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He enjoys sports because of the competition, camaraderie and energy, and views sports as a microcosm of society.

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