Join Date: Nov 2007
Officer is reunited with suicidal man he talked down from from the Golden Gate Bridge eight years ago... to find he's now happily married with two kids
A San Francisco man who almost took his life eight years ago by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge has been reunited with the hero who saved his life.
Kevin Berthia was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005, when he heard the voice of California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs calling out to him from above.
Over 60 life-changing minutes, Briggs managed to convince Berthia, as he has done with hundreds of suicidal men and women, to climb back over the rail and give life another shot. Since that significant day Berthia hasn't looked back and is now happily married with two children.And this week he was able to thank the man who made all that possible. The pair reunited as part of an emotional ceremony honoring Briggs and other members of the CHP known as the Guardians of the Golden Gate Bridge, whose job it is to gently talk people like Berthia down from the structure.
'It was phenomenal,' Berthia, 30, told Yahoo News about the reunion at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention public service ceremony.
I didn't know what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react,' he said. 'But when I first saw him, he walked up me and I just shook his hand. It felt like I had known this man my whole life. The nerves weren't there. It was just two old friends being reunited.'
As he presented Briggs with the award, Bertha explained how grateful he was for Briggs' help and urged others to seek help, insisting they could too get better and life a fulfilled life.
'I didn't want him to try and stop me but now I'm glad he did,' he told the crowd. 'All I can say is that I am truly grateful. You gave me an opportunity to live.'
The pair were reconnected after a Yahoo documentary in December 2012 chronicled the work of Briggs' team, centering on Berthia's case.
A resounding image of the man clinging to the bridge as Briggs spoke to him provoked an outpouring of support from the Bay area community.
After he received the award, Briggs said he was 'very humbled, honored and happy' to have the recognition for his team's hard work.
'I (accept this award) on behalf of the California Highway Patrol and police officers across this country who strive to do their best each and every time they receive a suicide call.
'During my career I've encountered numerous suicide attempts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Of those attempts, I've only lost one person. It's something you never forget.
'Kevin found the courage in himself that day to climb back over the rail, thus beginning a new stage in his life. Here, standing before us, is the reason we do what we do.'
Briggs said, since Yahoo's video, he had been contacted to get his life rights for a movie and other police departments have called to speak to him about the CHP's work.
'It's all been very humbling, to be honest,' he said.
Briggs, a cancer survivor and army veteran, first met with Berthia's mother and then the two men and their families met privately in a small room before the ceremony began.
'I wanted to meet him again,' Briggs told Yahoo, acknowledging that it was 'very unusual' for him to have contact with any of the men and women whose lives he's saved over the years.
'I just said, "It's great to see you." He said, "My Mom is your No. 1 fan." It was really neat.'
Berthia said the bond the pair forged during those 60 significant minutes will see them being friends for life.
'Now that I have his number, I don't see us never not being friends,' he told Yahoo. 'We are of such a different age but it never feels like that. I've shared things with Officer Briggs in those 60 minutes that no one else in the world knows. It's a special bond there.'