Natchaug Worker Prevents Woman from Jumping Off Bridge

Print icon

When you work on the frontlines in healthcare, you’re really always on duty.

For Amy Gallagher, lead clinician at Natchaug Hospital’s Joshua Center Thames Valley in Norwich, that was never more apparent than on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

Gallagher was driving with her 16-year-old daughter on Interstate 91 in New Haven. Traveling on the historically congested section of highway, she was forced to slam on her breaks after the truck in front of her did the same to avoid an accident. A car immediately in front of the truck had spun out and came to an abrupt stop in front of the overpass.

“The truck drove off and we stopped. We were kind of shocked. My daughter thought it might be the person’s tires [that caused the crash]. I told her to call 911,” Gallagher said.

While her daughter called for help, Gallagher approached the driver’s side window to see if the driver, a young woman, was OK.

“She said she was OK. She was just a little dazed,” Gallagher said. “Then she got out and went in front of the car and put her head down on the overpass.”

The woman was trying to kill herself.

“She put her leg on top of the bridge and went to jump so I grabbed her and had her by the waist and she was just slipping,” Gallagher said. “It was like a scene from a movie, to the point where I literally had her by her two wrists and she was dangling off the bridge.”

Minutes later another car pulled over, two women got out, and along with Gallagher’s daughter helped to subdue the woman. Gallagher, who is eight months pregnant, had to back away because the woman was punching and flailing, and she was concerned about her baby.

“She continued to fight with us and was saying, ‘I just want to die. I just want to die,’ ” Gallagher said.

That’s when Gallagher’s social worker training kicked in.

“I just wanted to bring her back [mentally] to where we needed to be,” said Gallagher.

“First of all, I told her ‘I’m eight months pregnant. I can’t have you punch me in the stomach, and I’m not going to let you kill yourself in front of my daughter,’ ” Gallagher said.

That seemed to calm the woman a bit. She said she just wanted to die, but didn’t want to hurt anyone else, Gallagher said.

“I said, ‘I understand that. I hear you. But it’s not going to be today. There’s not anything that we can’t fix. We’re going to get you some help,’” Gallagher said.

After about 20 minutes of struggle and trying to calm the woman down, emergency workers arrived and took the woman to a local hospital. Gallagher was unharmed. Her daughter was a bit shaken.

“When we got home, she just started to cry,” Gallagher said. “She’s such a goal-oriented kid who wants to go into medicine as a career, so I know this will just reaffirm her desire to want to help people. I’m so proud of her.”

For Gallagher, there was never a second thought about what she had to do.

“It wasn’t really a decision for me. It was ‘just do it’,” said Gallagher. “I didn’t want commendation. It wasn’t about that. It’s really about me appreciating that God put me there at that very moment to help this young lady, and I would do it over and over again.”

Learn more about the services of Natchaug Hospital here


What's New

The Orchards at Southington receives Activate Southington grant

LeaAnn Blanchard, director of social services at The Orchards at Southington, third from left, gathers with members of Activate Southington and other grant recipients outside the Southington YMCA Women’s Health & Wellness Center. Blanchard’s program, “Laughter with LeaAnn,” received funding to support its expansion to several days each week. The...

DAWN Protocols are Revolutionizing Stroke Treatment and Care

DAWN is a groundbreaking study that is changing the way doctors are treating people who have had strokes. Dr. Mark Alberts is the physician-in-chief at the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute with details. Q.  What do these protocols mean for stroke patients?  A.  This new study (called the DAWN Trial...

A Grill Brush, A Burger . . . And Emergency Surgery

Cleaning your grill with a wire brush can be dangerous, as one Wallingford woman learned in 2015. Cheryl Harrison was rushed to MidState Medical Center in Meriden in extreme stomach pain two days after eating a hamburger containing a wire bristle from a barbecue grill brush. A CT scan revealed...

Photo Gallery: Hartford HealthCare Dancing for Parkinson’s Event

The Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute hosted the inaugural Hartford HealthCare’s Dancing for Parkinson’s fundraising event May 11 at the Hartford Hilton Hotel.  The evening will included a dance competition featuring special guests and judges from Hartford HealthCare and the state and music by the De Novo Band. Proceeds benefit...

Closeup of man tying sneaker.

A Closer Look at Longtime Runner’s Knee-Replacement Surgery

When Richard Kristoff was about 40 years old, his brother called him fat, launching a 45-year passion for running. The Columbia native ran at least five miles a day, more on weekends, in pockets of time he found around his work schedule with Pratt & Whitney, where he spent 40...

Keeping an Eye on Ocular Melanoma

Malignant melanoma of the eye – ocular melanoma – is rare. But there are common precursors of the disease. Dr. Scott Walter from the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute’s Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center is one of only two ocular oncologists practicing in Connecticut.   Q: What is ocular melanoma? A: Ocular...