Ashland Fire and Police present Citizen Lifesaving Award to Xander Chappell
Letter of acknowledgement to citizen Xander Chappell from Ashland Police Chief, Tighe O’Meara
On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at 4:17 p.m., Officers with the Ashland Police Department responded along with Ashland Fire and Rescue to the Clay St overpass on Ashland St, for the report of a juvenile who had climbed onto the external side of the safety railing on the bridge and was threatening to jump with the intent to end his life.
Upon arriving, the juvenile made threats to the Officers that he would follow through with jumping, if they approached him any further than they already had. Because of this, law enforcement kept a distance from the juvenile and attempted communicating with him from this distance.
When Officers were arriving, citizen Xander Chappell happened to be walking across the overpass and came upon the juvenile. Seeing the juvenile was in crisis, Chappell stopped and engaged in conversation with him. Chappell positioned himself with his arm on the railing with the intent of creating a barrier to prevent the juvenile from being able to move further out on the overpass. Chappell remained on scene and calmly spoke with the juvenile, gaining a rapport with him that Officers were unable to.
Mental health workers responded and after twenty minutes, the juvenile decided he was done communicating with officials and tried to push through Chappell’s arm to walk further out on the overpass. Chappell took advantage of the juvenile raising his arm and wrapped the juvenile in a bear hug and pulled him against the railing. This provided first responders the time and opportunity to converge on the juvenile and gain control of him and lift him up and over the safety railing and back onto the overpass where he was taken by medical personnel for treatment.
Chappell’s selfless action to engage with the juvenile and keep him occupied in thoughtful conversation, rather than simply walking by embodies the City of Ashland’s motto of being “Better Together.” His calm demeanor throughout the incident and swift action when needed, no doubt saved this young man’s life.