Two weeks ago, Utah Transit Authority bus driver Shelly Monson was late returning to Ogden after delivering a bus to Salt Lake City. But she had a good excuse: she was busy stopping a suicidal teenager from jumping off a bridge.
The UTA Board honored her Wednesday as a hero, and she jokingly thanked board members for not being upset that she was delayed that day or that she took some chances in traffic.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone walking on I-15” near a bridge in Kaysville, she recounted. “Then I saw a leg go up on the barrier. So I flew across traffic and and I parked the [UTA] car.
“I ran and it felt like my feet weighed 5,000 pounds. I ran as fast as I could screaming, ‘Please don’t, please don’t,” Monson said. “When I got to her, I hooked her arm and her leg. And I held her.”
She said the 15-year-old girl let out a sigh as Monson pulled her back over the bridge railing, and then she started crying for her mother. “I just held her and let her cry on my chest, because I have children that age."
Another motorist also stopped, and summoned police. When they arrived, Monson turned over the girl and started to walk away — when a Highway Patrol officer ran after her to get her contact information and story.
Monson said she hasn’t been the same emotionally since, in part because it happened near the fourth anniversary of a nephew who died by suicide.
She told reporters Wednesday that she has a message for people struggling with suicidal thoughts.
“Find someone to talk to. Get it out. Don’t hold it inside because that’s where it eats at you,” she said. “If you can’t find anybody, look me up on Facebook because I will talk to you.”
She was a bit astonished at being honored as a hero.
“It’s a big wow for me, because I don’t do things for recognition. I just do it because it is what God would want us to do. You should just be a good person to everyone, because everyone is important,” she said.
Eddy Cummins, UTA chief operations officer, said Monson met with a counselor as required by UTA rules after a traumatic experience, but then quickly returned to work. “All in a day’s work? Not hardly, we don’t think so,” Cummins said about her actions.
“We know a hero when we see one" he said before presenting the award. "And we recognize her for going above and beyond the call of duty.”
Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts is asked to call the 24-Hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Utah also has crisis lines statewide, and the SafeUT app offers immediate crisis intervention services for youths and a confidential tip program.