Couple who tragically lost their son stopped man from jumping off Calderdale bridge

Calderdale Policing Awards Evening. Actor Siobhan Finneran with James Cook and Gemma Littley and their baby daughter Tabitha.
Calderdale Policing Awards Evening. Actor Siobhan Finneran with James Cook and Gemma Littley and their baby daughter Tabitha.

“You have not hit rock bottom yet”. That was the message from a recently bereaved father who helped talked a suicidal man down from Scammonden Bridge.

James Cook and partner Gemma Littley, who had lost their son Dexter to a rare genetic condition six months earlier, talked to the man for over an hour until police arrived on.

Their actions saved the life of the man, who was emotional and had been heavily drinking, and have been recognised with a commendation at the 2015 West Yorkshire Police Awards.

The couple, who were returning from visiting their son’s grave in St Thomas’s Church in Greetland, said they were thankful for the award but were only doing what anyone else would have done.

James said: “We were travelling from Greetland along Scammonden Bridge when we came across him. We saw a vehicle on the bridge and a guy on the verge of trying to jump off. We pulled the vehicle over and approached him.

“Gemma was in the vehicle, which the chap didn’t notice, and she dialed 999.

“I didn’t know it at the time but he was armed with a metal bar and had a history of violence.

“I was texting Gemma with information about him and she was relaying it to the police.

“He was very vulnerable and had had a lot to drink.

“I just talked to him about Dexter. He said he was at rock bottom. His personal circumstances were pretty bad and he was saying it was his only way out.

“He told me he had a nine-year-old daughter. Once he told me that, that was my in to talk about our son to him.

“I showed him photos and videos of our son who’s no longer with us.

“I was able to distract him until officers were able to close off the bridge.

“Officers came in and secured him.

“The only reason we were on the bridge is because we were visiting Dexter. If Dexter had still been with us, we wouldn’t have been on that bridge at that time.”

Presenting the award, Superintendent Owen West said: “James and Gemma through their own personal adversity stopped and helped a man who was suicidal. They communicated and empathised with the man and kept him talking to allow the police to arrive and detain him. They both showed courage and care, which undoubtedly saved the man’s life.”

Gemma, who was pregnant at the time of the incident, added: “The award is dedicated to our son Dexter because we wouldn’t have known what to say to the man if he hadn’t have passed away. We know what rock bottom is and we were able to put rock bottom into perspective for him.”