Brad Peper was recognized by the Minneapolis police department for an act of compassion that changed his—and someone else's life.
For Brad Peper, a commute to work one morning changed his—and someone else’s life.
Peper, a senior execution assurance and quality specialist at RBC Wealth Management–U.S., bikes roughly seven miles to the firm’s downtown Minneapolis headquarters each day. Around 4:45 a.m. one morning last fall, he was halfway across the Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi River when he heard someone crying. Looking back, he saw a young woman, obviously distraught, standing on the outside of the bridge’s railing. Peper stopped his bike and got off.
“I said, ‘Whatever’s upsetting you, why don’t you come back on the inside of the railing so we can talk about it,’” recalls Peper, who never had any sort of training for dealing with such situations.
Peper remembers the woman responding that she was invisible, and that nobody cared about her. At that point, he says, he realized the severity of the situation: Not only was there nobody else around at that early hour, but his phone was buried in his backpack on his bike. He had no way to easily call for help. All he could do was keep engaging with the woman.
“I said, ‘I’m standing in front of you, I care. Come on inside of the railing,’” Peper remembers. “I kept repeating that, telling her that I didn’t need to go to work, that I could just stay and we could talk.”
What Peper didn’t know, as he continued to try and talk with the woman, was that Minneapolis police were getting closer. Earlier in the morning, the woman had called her mother and explained her intention to take her own life. . The mother contacted the police, who worked to track down the woman’s cell phone.
About 20 minutes after Peper first started talking with the woman, officers arrived on the bridge. After observing the situation, they took over for Peper and were able to get the woman safely back over the railing and into an ambulance.
Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer Garrett Parten, who was among the officers responding to the bridge that morning, commended Peper for his efforts.
“His interaction absolutely saved her life,” Parten says. “If he hadn’t stopped, we might never have known she was there.”
Brad Peper (center) and the Minneapolis police officers who responded to the Stone Arch Bridge incident
A month after the incident, Peper received a letter in the mail from the police informing him that he had been awarded the Minneapolis Police Department’s Citizen’s Lifesaving Award. He officially received the award at a ceremony in December, where he was honored alongside police officers and other community members for acts of dedication and heroism in 2019.
“As police officers, we often interact with people who choose and act badly,” Parten says. “To see somebody who has compassion and care for other people, it’s encouraging to know there are good people out there and to interact with someone who chose to do good.”
For Peper, the most important thing is that the woman got the help and support she needed.
“I don’t know where she is today,” he says, “but I hope she’s doing better.”
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