Good Samaritans help stop young man from jumping off Maryland bridge

Several people in Maryland jumped into action to help stop a young man from taking his own life, authorities said.

Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans said the young man tried to jump off the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge, but was stopped by some drivers passing by who risked their own lives to save him.

Evans was not able to get the names of all the people who helped in all the chaos, but he hopes the Good Samaritans will contact his office so they can thank them for what they did.

FOX 5 was able to track down one man who helped to keep the 18-year-old from going over the ledge and ending his life far too soon.

"I was scared. I didn't know what to do," said Joe Zabko. "When someone is standing on a bridge that high, I didn't want to do the wrong thing and I didn't want to make him jump or bump him and actually make him go over."

Zabko is still shaken up over the incident. He was driving on the bridge to Solomons Island with his family in tow on the evening of July 3 when he noticed a car in front of him pull over to the shoulder. He said the driver, who was later identified as an 18-year-old man from Leonardtown, got out of his car, walked around the vehicle and stood up on the ledge 100 feet above the water.

"I had my 11-year-old son in the passenger seat and once I realized the guy was standing on the wall, I kept telling him to close his eyes because I didn't want him to see what was going on, what was going to happen," Zabko said. "There was a lady in front of me that got out and a lady from the other direction got out. They were talking to him and the lady on the backside grabbed the kid and brought him back down on the bridge because he was on the ledge still squatting down. And then I got out to make sure he didn't go back to the ledge again and they brought him to the backside of his car."

He said the two women who helped pull the man to safety and restrain him sat on the ground and kept the young man calm until emergency personnel arrived. Several other drivers also got out to help, with some even blocking traffic around the scene with their cars.

"Our training is difficult, but these people have no training and they just took it upon themselves to try to make a difference," said Sheriff Evans. "I have been on top of the bridge before out of my vehicle and it is windy up there, it is a long way down and it can be very scary. What they did was above the call of duty."

Meanwhile, Zabko said what happened will affect his family for some time even though the outcome could have been much worse.

"It was a very scary thing," said Zabko. "My daughter and my wife were actually in car behind me and they actually saw it also. So we had to have many talks after all of this happened. The young man was going through something at the time. He wouldn't tell us what was going on. We have lost a lot of sleep as a family over it. We were very concerned about him. But we are going to get through it. I hope he's okay now."

The young man was taken for evaluation at a local hospital and is expected to be fine.