We publish this unedited news release as submitted by the Manchester School District.  ~Publius

Powell at the mayor's podium in the Aldermanic Chambers

Gatsas and Powell at the mayor’s podium in the Aldermanic Chambers

MANCHESTER — Mayor Ted Gatsas and the Board of School Committee honored a senior from West High School for his efforts to prevent a stranger from taking his own life.

The Manchester Monarchs had just won their game against the Norfolk Admirals, and the weather was mild enough that 17-year-old Desmond Powell didn’t mind walking home from the Verizon Wireless Arena. The short walk to the West side on November 21 around 9:00 pm would have been uneventful, as it had been countless other times, until Desmond saw the man on the Granite Street Bridge.

“He was sitting on the railing with his legs on the water side,” Desmond said. “I heard him muttering to himself, ‘I’m gonna jump, I’m gonna jump.’”

Desmond was compelled to stop. Once the teenager got the suicidal man’s attention, he kept talking to try to keep him from following through with his intent.

“I told him a decision like that doesn’t just affect him, that it affects his family and friends and everyone who cares about him,” Desmond said. “Even if he’s going through a rough time, I told him he needs to keep pushing through. Something positive will happen.”

The man explained that he was a heroin user and he had gotten high earlier that day. He said he was afraid his parole officer would find out, and he was overwhelmed with the troubles he was facing in life.

Another passerby also had stopped, and with her help, Desmond coaxed the man off the railing. He was hungry, he said, so they went to the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts where Desmond gave him ten dollars to buy coffee and a sandwich. When the man went to use the restroom, Desmond called the police to come pick the man up. The distraught man overheard the conversation and left.

That might have been the end of the story if the man hadn’t left his cell phone charging in the outlet at Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I saw him run up Dubuque Street, so that gave police an idea of the area he was in,” Desmond said. “I told them they could come get his phone to give it back to him when they found him.”

While Desmond waited, the man returned on his own, with a message of thanks for Desmond.

“He said, ‘People like you make me want to stay in this world. Thanks for believing in me. You saved my life. You’re a hero.’”