A local teacher who helped bring a man having a mental health crisis back off of the Quil Ceda Creek overpass was recognized by Marysville officials on April 26.
Darrell Walker, who has taught with the Marysville School District for 20 years, currently at Heritage High School, and is the owner of the local Walker’s Coffee company, was driving westbound on 88th Street in Marysville on Feb. 3 when he noticed traffic was stalled.
He went out to investigate the incident, “and I saw someone on the edge of the bridge, still hanging on,” he said.
A young man on the Quil Ceda Creek overpass was threatening to jump.
“There wasn’t any question in my mind, I thought I had to do something,” he said.
Marysville Fire District Fire Chief Martin McFalls said it was a brave action to take.
“This is a situation that could have, and did, put him at risk, and he had his daughters with him at the time,” said McFalls. “But he got out without a lot of concern for his personal safety."
Walker instructed his oldest child to call 911 and began to approach the man having a mental health crisis.
“I was thinking maybe I could talk him down or make a connection,” he said. “I walked up to him and said ‘you can’t do this.’”
Eventually Walker was close enough to make physical contact.
“He was my size so there was no way I could grab him if he was to jump,” he said, so Walker attempted a bear hug, which was enough to bring the young man off the bridge.
McFalls praised the effort put in by Walker.
“When I heard about this I thought ‘wow,’ to have the wherewithal to approach this person in a very compromising position,” he said. “He had a very calm approach and really tried to reach out to this young man."
Walker said he was surprised by how many people in their cars were just watching the incident, although noted that there were other people out there trying to help, such as an older woman who was also on the overpass and talking to the young man in crisis.
“Another gal also helped save the day, yelling [the young man’s name] and telling him not to do it,” said Walker.
Emergency vehicles arrived at the scene soon after and Walker said he got in his car and drove off at that time.
Local officials soon began receiving nominations for Walker to receive some kind of recognition.
“We actually had multiple people submit nominations,” said McFalls, who added bystanders at the event hoped Walker would be honored. “Even our crew told me that we need to recognize this person."
McFalls called Walker and told him the city of Marysville and the Marysville Fire District wanted to recognize him with a Meritorious Service Award, which is given to civilians who go above and beyond in service to their community.
He noted that Walker was “as humble as anyone can be” about the recognition though.
“I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it,” said Walker “I told him ‘no’ initially. I said I was glad he called but the phone call was enough."
Walker’s principal at Heritage High School encouraged him to accept the award and he eventually agreed.
“We should celebrate the positive in the community,” he said.
McFalls agreed it is good to honor those who make their towns better.
“It just seems that it is getting harder and harder to find these types of citizens who are taking an active role in making a difference,” he said.