This is a picture of Gene and Dora, Sandra and me. I grew up with Sandra and her siblings and family-one house separated our homes.
Dan and I got to hear the awesome story of a modern day hero, a REAL hero! I've heard the story once or twice in the past, but not by the actual hero himself-until yesterday! Gene and Dora shared this story with us, and it is absolutely worth sharing it with you!
The Y Bridge, Akron, Ohio
Above is a picture of the Y Bridge in my home town of Akron, Ohio. As you can probably tell, this is a large bridge, one where people go to jump off when they feel that life is no longer worth living.
One Sunday morning, Gene and Dora were on their way to church, and Dora noticed a woman on the bridge, and told Gene that it looked like she was going to jump. Gene was driving, and turned around to go back to the woman.
His granddaughter talked him into buying new shoes the day before, and they happened to have traction, unlike his usual pair that were worn well on the now slippery bottoms.
As Gene got out of his car and was approaching the woman, she kept telling him not to come near her, that she would jump. He told her he wasn't going to touch her, he just wanted to know if she was ok, and began asking her questions, learning that she had a husband and two children at home.
Gene continued to inch his way toward the woman, and she continued to inch her way to a position on the bridge where she would be sure to land on concrete below, and not in the grass.
Gene managed to get up to the woman, and she did indeed jump. Gene caught her, and held her until help came, and was able to get her back over the rail to safety.
Dora, of course, was praying the whole time as well.
The next day, Gene and Dora visited with the young woman, and she asked Gene who else helped him to hold her. He told her it was just him. She told him that she felt many hands/arms around her, and I'm sure I know why.
God loves people. I cannot answer why tragedy hits some, and spares others, but one thing I do know is that God used this good man to help save this young mother who apparently felt no hope. This woman was given a second chance at life. It has been 10 years since this happened, and I hope this woman will never forget her second chance at life, and be thankful that she was able to watch her little ones grow up.
I feel honored to say, "I know this man!!!". This family lived two doors down from me for many, many years. Their kids and my brother and I have many, many memories together!
These are two online mentions of this situation-God bless my neighbor Gene, who was one of my dad's very dearest friends, and who has always cared about people!
CARNEGIE HERO FUND COMMISSION CITES 22
FOR EXTRORDINARY HEROISM IN U.S., CANADA
Gene H. Barker saved a woman from falling, Akron, Ohio, July 30, 2000. Intending to commit suicide, a
34-year-old woman sat on a narrow concrete barrier along the edge of a highway bridge, at a point about
70 feet above a paved road. Barker, 59, retired mason, saw her as he drove across the bridge. He
returned to the scene, then slowly approached the woman on foot and spoke to her over the course of a
few minutes. The woman then told Barker she was going to jump, and she began to do so. From about
four feet away, Barker lunged at the woman, who had left the barrier, and grasped her under the arms,
securing her. The woman struggled with Barker as he leaned over the waist-high barrier and yelled at
him to let her go. Other men who were nearby then aided Barker until emergency personnel arrived
shortly and removed her from the bridge. The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment, and she
Mayor Plusquellic honored 59 year old Gene Barker, a passer-by on the All-America Bridge Sunday morning, July 30, who reached out for a woman as she flung herself from the span. Barker caught the woman in mid air, and held her in a bear hug until several citizens, police and EMS crews arrived to assist in getting the woman safely back on the bridge sidewalk. Officers Mark Hagen and Jim Kroah assisted in getting the victim back over the railing.
Barker, a retired mason, said the danger to his own life never entered his mind. "I just did something probably anyone would have done in that spot. I feel good about being there at a time where I could help," Barker said this morning.
Mayor Plusquellic called Barker’s actions fearless, saying, "Mr. Barker risked his own life, risked being pulled over the bridge while extending his body over the railing to grab the woman. This was an act of selfless courage."