CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A Charleston police officer with ties to Coastal Carolina University is being recognized as a hero after he pulled a man to safety when he attempted to jump from a bridge.

Kyle Skeels is currently a probationary officer for the Charleston Police Department, where he has worked for nearly two years. Before beginning his work in law enforcement, the Pennsylvania native was a catcher for CCU’s 2016 national championship baseball team and was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft.

Charleston and North Charleston police officers responded Thursday night to a call at the North Bridge, where officers said a man told his family he was going to jump.

Skeels, the first officer to arrive said the man was looking over the side of the bridge. Skeels said he tried to talk to the man as he was taught to do in his crisis-intervention training. However, the man threatened to jump if he didn’t back away.

“It’s just respect their wishes, try to talk to them at first,” Skeels said. “But as soon as I saw him make an attempt to go over the railing that’s all thrown out the window. It’s close the distance and try to preserve someone’s life.” 

Skeels jumped into action and pulled the man to safety. According to the officer, the man he saved was a veteran, which, he said highlights a bigger picture.

“Another one of our veterans going through a mental crisis like that, I think that’s a big focus that we need to address,” Skeels said. “Not only in Charleston, but America as a whole.”

Police said the man was taken to the VA hospital after the incident.

According to John Tjaarda with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are three signs to look for if your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis – changes in the way they act, talk, or think.

He said to ask the person directly about it.

“There’s a common misconception that asking someone about suicide will put the thought into their head, and that is not true,” said Tjaarda. “Usually asking someone about suicide, who might be having suicidal ideation, is going to zero them into you and they’ll be startled, surprised, and very willing to talk about it.”

He said talking about it is the first step to getting help.

Tjaarda shared resources for those needing assistance. If you’re experiencing a crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOPE4SC to 741741.

For those needing help, but aren’t in a crisis, you can call the SC-HOPES Helpline at 844-SC-HOPES. It is an anonymous support line that connects callers with mental health and addiction counselors. You can also click here.