Mick and Damon’s story

Two men from two different parts of Network Rail came together to help a woman who was threatening to jump from a road bridge in Sussex in the middle of the night.

Mick Pearson (pictured below, left), a track quality supervisor, and Damon Lightwood (pictured below, right), section manager, are both from Sussex and based in Three Bridges and Brighton respectively.

Mick’s story

“When I came over the bridge there was a Network Rail van parked up. I thought, ‘It’s a colleague. I’ll pull over and see if he’s okay or had an accident or something.’ I got out and I could see there was a couple of people there and there was a girl sat the wrong side of the fence, with a 45 foot drop beyond her.

“We’re not just colleagues; we’re all family. This is a family business and if somebody’s in trouble we’ll pull over and help. We are all first aid trained and when the time comes we stop and help.

“We spoke very softly to her, just simple things. It took us half hour to get her name. There were just little shakes of the head from here, little nods. She was just softly saying, ‘I want it all to end. I don’t want to be here.’

“We eventually got her talking we made good progress quite quickly then. Eventually I said, ‘Come on, you don’t want to do this, just give me your hand and we’ll have a chat.’ Damon was behind her to make sure she didn’t do anything.

“We got her behind the fence again and sat down and talked. The police turned up and he took his helmet off and spoke to her, saying he’s not a policeman anymore, he’s just a person, and she calmed down.

“We’re all human beings and sometimes all you need is for someone to listen. Once she started talking we sat down and just let her talk. She sat in the car for a bit and then the ambulance turned up and she was taken into their care.

“Working for Network Rail definitely had an impact on how we reacted to this incident. We work in an environment where we are all responsible for each other’s safety. We go to work and two hours later our whole lives can be changed. The comradeship between us is very strong. Because of what we do, because of the name we have on our backs.

“This has changed my life.”

We’re all human beings and sometimes all you need is for someone to listen.

Damon’s story

“I was with my team and we were driving over a couple of bridges in Arundel. I was in the passenger seat and I saw there was a woman on the wrong side of the bridge hanging onto the handrail rocking backwards and forwards. I said, ‘Stop the van’, and I jumped out and walked over to her.

“I was quite careful. I said something like, ‘It’s a warm evening’, but there was no response. She was just rocking backwards and forwards, staring.

“Then another railway supervisor, Mick, turned up and we both stood on either side of her. We told her that, whatever she was going though, this wasn’t worth it.

“We eventually helped her back on to the road and sat down with her and the Police. She was saying, ‘I haven’t got any friends,’ and we said, ‘You’ve got three friends here.’ 

“Everything we do is about safety and we are always analysing where we are, looking for potential hazards and you can see the big picture very quickly.” 

Mick is a fundraiser for the charity researching Smith-Magenis Syndrome, which his son Riley has: Smith-Magenis Syndrome Foundation UK

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