Jail chief stops bridge jumper

A jail chief was recently honored for saving the life of a suicidal man just by talking.

De Dennis, chief administrative deputy for the Island County Jail and a former sheriff candidate, was off duty and heading off the island May 7 to pick up his grandchildren and attend a youth appreciation dinner. Those plans were delayed when he heard a 911 call of a suicidal man at the Deception Pass Bridge.

He hurried to the bridge and found a Mount Vernon man ready to jump.

“He was suspended on the outside of the bridge,” Dennis said.

Dennis parked his car, walked down the sidewalk, and struck up a conversation with the man. Dennis, who was wearing civilian clothes at the time, is known for having the gift of the gab.

The suicidal man was distraught with family issues, losing his job, and chronic back pain he endured.

Dennis said the man was basically looking for someone to talk to. Dennis was able to convince the guy to step back onto the bridge and walk to Canoe Island to continue talking.

“We just stood there and talked,” Dennis said, adding that the man eventually sought help for his problems.

In his 14 years with the Sheriff’s Office, Dennis has responded to six suicidal people at the bridge.

Dennis was recognized for his efforts during the Monday morning Island County Commissioner meeting.

“This was such a great act that the Board of Commissioners wanted to recognize this act,” Commissioner John Dean said.

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