HPPD Averts Potential Suicide on Goodkind Bridge

Two Highland Park Police officers stopped a potential tragedy last week, as they calmed an individual showing suicidal behavior on the Goodkind Bridge in Edison.

On the evening of Friday, June 3, Highland Park Police Officer Sean Garley was driving over the
Morris Goodkind Bridge on Rt 1 in Edison on his way home from work. As he was crossing the
bridge, he observed a car parked on the shoulder and an individual pacing near the railing that
repeatedly grabbed the guardrail and leaned over the edge, looking at the river below.
Believing he was witnessing an indicator of suicidal behavior, Officer Garley parked nearby,
exited his vehicle, and started speaking with the distraught individual who confirmed they were
intending to jump from the bridge.

Utilizing his training in de-escalation and critical incident management skills, Officer Garley
calmed the individual down and over the span of several minutes was able to bring them away
from the edge of the bridge to sit on the curb.

Off Duty Highland Park Police Detective Sean McGraw, also on his way home from work, saw
what was happening and stopped to assist Garley in keeping the individual calm.
The off-duty Highland Park Officers notified the Highland Park Dispatch center of what was
occurring and asked for support from neighboring jurisdictions. Officers from the Edison and
New Brunswick Police Departments quickly arrived on scene and were able to take the
individual to a local hospital for an evaluation and treatment.

Highland Park Police Chief Rick Abrams praised Officer Garley and Det. McGraw, saying, “I am
extremely proud of both officers. Officer Garley observed an unusual occurrence on a bridge
known for suicide attempts. Det McGraw saw Officer Garley attempting to help a distraught
individual and, realizing the challenges Officer Garley was facing, Det McGraw stopped to assist.
Both officers quickly recognized the potential for this individual to harm themselves and utilized
their training and experience to prevent a tragedy. These officers exemplify the best qualities of
the Highland Park Police Department.”

Highland Park Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler echoed Chief Abrams’ sentiments, noting the department’s emphasis on de-escalation and related training. I am proud of our department and particularly of Ofc. Garley and Det. McGraw. Thankfully, they turned a potential tragedy into a life-saving event.”

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