A rookie Los Angeles firefighter's attempt to connect with a man proved to be life-saving when the man safely surrendered after threatening to jump off a freeway overpass.
Kenneth Fraser was driving home Tuesday night from training as a Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter when he noticed people crowded around a man on the 101 Freeway overpass in Hollywood.
Fraser got out of his car and cleared the scene. He approached the man, who was threatening to jump off the bridge. Fraser, who was off-duty and had only months of training under his belt, started a conversation with him.
"I got a chance to get up close and personal with the gentleman," he said.
Fraser was able to relate with the man and talk to him about his struggles growing up.
"I was able to identify by explaining to him what I had to experience growing up and other issues and problems, and what I did to overcome that," Fraser said.
By the time Los Angeles police arrived, Fraser had already built a strong rapport with the man. Police, unaware that he was a rookie firefighter at the time, let him continue.
"I'm a civil servant," Fraser said. "One thing I wanna make sure I do at all times is be able to show that compassion and show that I care. Everybody is a human being, first and foremost."
Eventually the man safely surrendered. The activity closed down the 101 at the height of rush hour. Officers had placed air cushions on the freeway below just in case he jumped.
For Fraser, he hopes people who saw what he did that day would be inspired to pay it forward.
"At the end of the day, it's my job and my duty, it's an opportunity for me to change someone else's life," he said. "I don't believe there's a greater calling than that."