She stood at the apex of the expansive bridge, the swirling, frigid waters waiting. Hopelessness had wrapped itself around the young woman, held her close as she stepped over the guardrail, unnoticed in the winter gray.
Nothing would hold her back.
But in the rush of traffic flowing behind her, there was a “chance” lane change.
“As my sister and I are driving over the cable bridge, I just kind of veered to the right,” Davion Campbell said, explaining how he had moved into the lane bordering a pedestrian walkway. “I saw a young girl, and I could see by the way she was standing she was on the other side of the railing.”
Only a step from falling or jumping from the bridge.
“Once I saw her, I didn’t even second-guess,” Campbell said. “I just committed to hitting the brakes and backing up.”
Even though this 2,500-foot span across the Columbia River in Tri-Cities, Wash., averages thousands of car crossings a day, Campbell miraculously had a brief window. With caution lights flashing, he hopped from his car, racing toward the “20-something” standing on the edge of death.
“I put my arms around her and asked if she was OK, but she was trying to push away from me,” the nearly 6-foot Campbell said about holding the smaller framed woman on the narrow concrete edge. “I think she just wanted me to let her go through with it.”
But Davion, who serendipitously arrived on the scene while visiting family, was determined to hold her back, to thwart her intended leap.
In his out-of-state lay ministry, he voluntarily reaches out to the hurting and hopeless living on the streets. Akin to what was unfolding right then more than 50 feet above the water, it often means talking a person off the “ledge” calmly and unhurriedly, he said.
“She’d made up her mind that that’s what she wanted to do. But once I got over there I had to talk her down,” the 29-year-old said about trying to convince her that suicide wasn’t the way.
“‘I told her, ‘Whatever you’re going through you can overcome it. God loves you and he has a plan for you. This is his way of intervening, so take this as a sign.’ ”
While the oncoming sirens wailed in the distance, and with Davion’s sister nearby, he held the “jumper” close. And as they stood together, his comforting words touched her heart.
“She’d been praying to get off drugs, and then for God to prove that he loves her,” Campbell said.
Proof? It seemed the evidence had been mounting.
A physically strong man of God shows up on a busy bridge just in the nick of time — the only one to initially stop. He puts his car into reverse on the bridge, which is often crowded with cars. The rescuer parks on one of the two southbound lanes without creating a multi-car disaster.
All of this in itself could be convincing. But even more so is Davion’s passion about his purpose, one where he typically spends his non-working hours walking or driving to areas he feels directed to so he can help others.
“It was just an opportunity and I thank him that he used me to reach that person,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t about me in the moment. It was about saving that person and demonstrating God’s love.”
On that gloomy day in January 2018, it was clear that God’s love never let’s go.
Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the spiritual life editor for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, “light bringer.”