Volunteer Guards Bridge to Save Lives
Since Chen Si began patrolling the Nanjing Bridge four years ago, he has saved 144 lives.
Chen Si, of Nanjing, China, is a very special kind of lifeguard. He doesn’t wear a swimsuit, he isn’t paid a penny for his work, and he’s never even dipped a toe into the waters of the Yangtze River.
Nonetheless, since the 34-year-old began patrolling the Nanjing Bridge four years ago, he has saved 144 lives.
Chen began his rescue mission in 2004, while feeling guilty about the suicide of an elderly neighbor. “I thought to myself, ‘Why didn’t I go visit him, talk to him?’” he told The Los Angeles Times. “Maybe I could have saved his life.”
So that weekend, he went to Nanjing Bridge, a landmark that’s notorious as a destination for suicide jumpers. Since the bridge’s opening 40 years ago, over 1,000 people have killed themselves by jumping into the water. Chen decided that, even if he couldn’t save his neighbor, at least he may be able to save others from throwing their lives away.
On his first day patrolling the bridge, he came across a man in the process of crawling over the bridge’s railing. I grabbed him by the waist, he hardly fought back,” said Chen. “I pressed him to the ground. He started to cry.”
The would-be jumper was distraught after losing his money to a con man, and believed that suicide was the only way out. But after Chen prevented him from jumping, the man realized he still had a lot to live for –his wife and children. Because the man was now penniless, Chen gave him enough money for bus fare to return home to his family.
“In a time of crisis, all people really need is one person willing to lend a hand,” Chen said. “It could make the difference between life and death.”
Shi Xiqing, another would-be jumper, who is now one of Chen’s best friends, agrees. “This bridge needs people like him,” Shi said. “Without him, I would not be here today.”
Article originally published May 2008. Three years later, Chen Si is still performing rescues.Filed under: General Interest, Heroes,
Liked this? You'll love these, too:
Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing Nothing
When an alarm announced that the United States had launched missiles at the Soviet Union, Stanislav Petrov could have pushed the red button to start a full-scale nuclear war. Luckily for all of us, he didn't. Read More
Hero Bystander Marcel Gleffe Saves Lives in Utoya Massacre
Marcel Gleffe, a German tourist, saved 30 people in the massacre on Norway's Utoya Island. Read More
Floating Diaper Saves Toddler from Drowning
3-year-old Sariyah Michel was rescued from a lake, thanks to her absorbent Pampers diaper. Read More
Amazing Heroes of the United States Military
In honor of this Veterans' Day, we're sharing a few of our favorite stories of heroic individuals in the United States military. Read More
Missing Conne Family Found After 6 Days Lost in Oregon Woods
After going missing for nearly a week in Oregon's Klamath Mountains, the Conne family was alive and well. Read More
To our free daily newsletter, featuring good news from around the world, exclusive interviews with changemakers, guest columns, and subscriber-only weekly giveaways and special offers. Your privacy is secure with us, we will never spam you or sell your email address. Enter your email address below or click here to learn more about what you will receive.
- Stanislav Petrov: The Man Who Saved the World by Doing Nothing
- Miracle Fruit Makes (Almost) Everything Delicious
- Hachiko: The World’s Most Loyal Dog
- Liam Hoekstra, Superbaby: Toddler Born with Superhuman Strength
- Mugging Attempt Gets Thwarted by Real-Life Ninjas