The events date back to February; according to the KELO-TV account, snow plow operator Brian Rypkema was working the night of Feb. 4, with heavier than expected snow falling in Sioux Falls.
“I think we ended up getting three or four inches that night. And, when this happened, it was coming down,” Rypkema said. “I mean, you couldn’t see maybe a block or so.”
But then, as he recalled, he saw a man on the wrong side of an interstate highway bridge, and after confirming that he was actually seeing what he thought he was seeing, he called 911.
Then he went out to talk to the man.
“I don’t even remember everything I said,” Rypkema recalled. “I remember the main thing I kept saying is, ‘Life is too short, dude. It’s not worth it,’ and he kept saying, ‘I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. I’m just going to get hurt a little bit.’”
The Argus Leader, picking up the story, added that “a police officer a few blocks away responded to the scene in a few minutes and was able to get the man off the bridge to safety.”
“It is one of those things that felt like it took a half hour,” said Rypkema, “but it actually took around five minutes.”
KELO said that before police arrived, Rypkema told his partner to park his sand truck under the bridge to block off traffic. By the time it got down there, Rypkema had successfully convinced the man not to jump.
“We need more people to notice those in need,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken by way of praise, adding, “Their neighbors in need and step up to do something to help,” said.
TenHaken awarded Rypkema a piece of granite that, according to the TV station’s account, “symbolizes the core values the city is built on.”
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available toll free 24/7, at 1-800-273-8255.