Inspire Dayton: Airmen praised for helping teenager off bridge

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Briden, left, Air Force Installation Contracting Center expeditionary operations manager, and Tech. Sgt. Anthony Staton, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, stand near the South Maple Avenue bridge in Fairborn, Ohio, on Nov. 20, 2020. Two days earlier, the Airmen assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base stopped to aid a teen who was hanging over the side of the bridge and appeared to be in distress. They stayed with the teen until police and medics arrived. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)
Caption
U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Briden, left, Air Force Installation Contracting Center expeditionary operations manager, and Tech. Sgt. Anthony Staton, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, stand near the South Maple Avenue bridge in Fairborn, Ohio, on Nov. 20, 2020. Two days earlier, the Airmen assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base stopped to aid a teen who was hanging over the side of the bridge and appeared to be in distress. They stayed with the teen until police and medics arrived. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Two Wright-Patterson Air Force Base airmen are being lauded for their quick action to help save a distressed teenager who was considering jumping from a Fairborn overpass.

On Nov. 18, Tech. Sgt. Anthony Staton was headed to Wright-Patt to begin his workday at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center when he saw a figure hanging onto a light pole outside a railing on the South Maple Drive overpass in Fairborn. At first, he thought it was a child, but then realized it was a young man considering jumping off the structure.

Staton pulled over his car in one of the lanes, slowly walked to the teen and began a conversation. The teen spoke softly, was hesitant and seemed to have a lot on his mind, Staton said.

“I stopped because of his body language – he looked sad. He didn’t look like he was in the best place,” he said. “You can tell when your friends are down; you notice body language, especially with everything going on this year. You want everybody to be OK. I was worried for him.

The Dayton region has a reputation for generosity and banding together in tough times to help one another. But social distancing can be isolating and make it hard to know how your neighbor has pitched in. That’s why throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of people who have persevered and inspired others during this challenging year.

Senior Master Sgt. David Briden, an expeditionary operations manager for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, also was driving to work when he saw Staton’s uniform, parked his pickup behind the airman’s car and turned on his hazard lights.

“When he pulled up, I needed another person because I was afraid (the teen) would go back on his decision while I was on the phone (calling the police),” Staton said. “Sgt. Briden also talked to him and knew to put our bodies between the railing and him and make sure he couldn’t choose another way. (Briden) was very calm himself. He’s a senior master sergeant, so he has probably had to deal with some situations of calming people down.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Briden, left, Air Force Installation Contracting Center expeditionary operations manager, and Tech. Sgt. Anthony Staton, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, stand on the South Maple Avenue bridge in Fairborn, Ohio, on Nov. 20, 2020. Two days earlier, these Airmen assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base stopped to aid a teen who was hanging over the side of the bridge and appeared to be in distress. They stayed with the teen until police and medics arrived. A portion of the photo has been altered for security reasons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)
Caption
U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Briden, left, Air Force Installation Contracting Center expeditionary operations manager, and Tech. Sgt. Anthony Staton, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, stand on the South Maple Avenue bridge in Fairborn, Ohio, on Nov. 20, 2020. Two days earlier, these Airmen assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base stopped to aid a teen who was hanging over the side of the bridge and appeared to be in distress. They stayed with the teen until police and medics arrived. A portion of the photo has been altered for security reasons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Credit: Ty Greenlees

Soon several Fairborn Police Department units arrived and took charge, eventually taking the young man to medical care and discussing available resources with him.

“We certainly appreciate them stopping and helping that young man in crisis and we are thankful they were able to assist us,” said Fairborn Police Department Sgt. Ben Roman. “We value Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a member of our community. They are always willing to assist us.

“We appreciate them remaining observant of their surroundings and recognizing someone in need of help and making this a positive outcome.”

Staton said the Air Force suicide awareness and prevention training was a factor in how the incident was resolved. As a supervisor, he’s had to worry about his troops once or twice and head over to their home, he said, but this was a bit different.

“I’m glad I was there at the right time. I feel like I didn’t do anything that anyone else could have done. I’m thankful it ended the way it did,” he said.

Col. Maurizio Calabrese, NASIC commander, commended the two airmen.

“These are caring and quick-thinking airmen who literally didn’t think twice about who they protect and defend on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s really humbling, and I’m proud to serve with such selfless NCOs.”


Inspire Dayton

Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of people who have persevered and inspired others during this challenging year. Tell us who inspired you in 2020 by emailing jordan.laird@coxinc.com.