A 19-year veteran Transit cop who talked a suicidal 20-year-old man out of jumping off the roof of an MBTA garage Saturday is being hailed for his quick thinking and calming demeanor that saved a life.
Officer Jim Clark, 56, was patrolling the Quincy Adams T parking garage Saturday night, prowling for car thieves and vandals, when he spotted someone run to a railing on the sixth floor.
“I knew he was upset because he was sweating, wiping his face with his T-shirt and screaming. I said, ‘Oh (expletive). He’s going to go over the edge,” Clark said yesterday. The young man climbed on the railing and sat with his back to the ground, 120 feet down.
“I jumped out of my cruiser and said, ‘Kid, kid. Wait a minute. Talk to me. Talk to me. Don’t do this. It’s not worth it. You’re a young man. You’re too young. You have your whole life to live.’ ”
The man wailed, “I’m sick of it. I have no job. I should be dead. I want to die. I watched my mother die in my arms when I was 17.”
Clark said the man threatened to fall back if he got closer, saying, “You’re going to pick me up off the ground.” Clark spent 15 minutes talking to him about his family problems.
A Quincy police sergeant arrived, and the two officers moved in, grabbing the man off the railing.
“He just went limp in my arms. He was so emotionally drained,” Clark said. “I felt so bad for him.”
Transit Police Deputy Chief Joseph O’Connor praised Clark, saying, “He’s a compassionate person and always shows empathy to the people he’s dealing with. He’s got great communication skills, and it doesn’t surprise me that Officer Clark was able to utilize them to save this man’s life.”
“I’ve got two sons his age,” Clark said. “What else do you do? You talk to him with respect and dignity and you hope he comes around.”
He patrols a large area, and he credits providence for putting him where he was needed: “Someone put us together.”