Adam Camerer was on his way to meet friends on the night of Nov. 1. He crossed the Columbia Bridge in Hamilton when he saw a man dressed in black sitting on the railing.
It was dark and raining. Camerer knew that man was not there to fish.
“I figured it was not a great situation he was in at the moment,” Camerer said. “I pulled down the road a bit, and I walked up to him and said, ‘Hey are you doing OK? Can I help you?’”
The man, slumped over and wet, was clear in what he wanted.
“He said, ‘Just step the (expletive) away from me,’” Camerer said.
Months later, Camerer is reflecting on what happened that night, when he watched a man jump from the bridge into the Great Miami River and live. Having dealt with personal issues himself, he wanted to help the man, and he hopes to be able to reconnect with him.
Until that happens, he’s forced to replay the events of that night in his mind.
“I take suicide very seriously,” Camerer said, noting he too thought about ending his life a couple years ago with a gun.
“I said, ‘How about we talk?’” he said. But the distressed man only answered by saying “If you want to find out who did this, ask (a woman’s name).”
Camerer said he then knew the man was heartbroken.
“I told him, ‘It’s cool man, I have been there multiple times,’ that I was that distraught,” Camerer said.
The man became very agitated when he mentioned his estranged girlfriend and stood up on the railing. Camerer offered up a blanket, which he refused, and more words.
“I said, ‘Man, it isn’t worth doing his over a woman. If you jump, you are not only going to hurt those who love you, but you are going to hurt me because I couldn’t do anything for you,’” Camerer said.
The 23-year-old thought about trying to grab the man himself, but the man continued to warn against getting closer.
“There was a moment when I was about five feet from him, I thought about bear hugging him down,” Camerer said. But the man just got more agitated.
Then Camerer called police and things escalated very quickly.
“They (police) were very professional, but it just didn’t help,” Camerer said. And when the girlfriend was brought to the scene, Camerer said that didn’t help, either.
“Once they brought the girlfriend, he was just done.” Camerer said. “He just wanted her to see it.”
The 25-year-old man did jump into the Great Miami River at about 8:30 p.m. The river’s current pulled the man under several times, and he was carried about 150 yards south of the bridge. At one point, it appeared that he was trying to get to the west shoreline, but the current was too swift, police said.
When the fire department was able to pull the man to safety, he was suffering from hypothermia. He was taken to Fort Hamilton Hospital for treatment and psychological evaluation.
Camerer said he is sure he saw the man last week while he was in a line in the Hamilton area. He recognized the voice and body language.
“I was going to say something, but I wanted to make sure to say something in confidence,” Camerer said.
Camerer said he would like to reconnect with the man.
“A couple years ago, I was in the same position, and I know how hard it is to recover from that,” Camerer said. “I think it is something I want to do because I couldn’t stop him from jumping.”
Camerer said if the man can call him at 513-388-8420.