Man receives award for stopping teen from jumping to his death

Mr Henry Antoine Nicolas Sebastien receiving the Public Spiritedness Award from Assistant Commissioner of Police Jarrod Pereira, Commander of Clementi Police Division, at a ceremony last Friday.
Mr Henry Antoine Nicolas Sebastien receiving the Public Spiritedness Award from Assistant Commissioner of Police Jarrod Pereira, Commander of Clementi Police Division, at a ceremony last Friday.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Mr Henry Antoine Nicolas Sebastien, 34, and his wife, who have lived in Singapore for 41/2 years, were taking some of their foreign friends on a tour around the island when they were confronted with a life-and-death situation.

On Nov 4, they were on Sentosa island at the Skywalk, a 181m-long bridge-cum-trail that overlooks treetops en route to the popular tourist attraction Fort Siloso.

The group was strolling along the Skywalk when one of them spotted in the distance what appeared to be a teenage boy perched atop the metal ledge of the bridge.

Mr Henry, an associate game director at software company Ubisoft, thought at first that the teenager was playing a prank or attempting a daredevil act.

But he soon noticed that the boy seemed to be in great distress, and realised that he was on the verge of attempting suicide.

The Frenchman approached the teenager carefully, and asked if he was okay. "He looked extremely tense," Mr Henry said.

"It was clear that he was thinking of jumping, and I wasn't about to stand by and let him do that."

The Skywalk is suspended 11 storeys above ground. Falls from that height are likely to be fatal.

Mr Henry stood by the boy's side, and spoke with him for over 15 minutes in an attempt to persuade him to step back from the ledge. While he was speaking to the teen, his wife and friends called the police and Sentosa rangers for help.

"He would not listen to me, and only answered my questions with 'yes' or 'no'," Mr Henry said.

"I spoke to him as much as possible, and put my hand on his shoulder, trying to give him more contact and assurance," he added.

"It seemed like his mind was made up, and he was just mustering the courage to jump."

As the group waited anxiously for help to arrive, the teen lurched forwards suddenly, in what Mr Henry assumed was an attempt to jump off the bridge.

Without thinking twice, Mr Henry lunged forwards and grabbed the teen by the waist. Using all of his strength, and with the assistance of his friends, he hauled the teen back over the railing.

Mr Henry then held on to the distressed and sobbing boy, until the police arrived on the scene.

A passer-by, Ms Christine Yap, 28, said that she walked past just as police officers arrived.

"The teenager is lucky that there was a Good Samaritan who was there to save his life," she said.

Mr Henry received the Public Spiritedness Award at a ceremony at Clementi Police Division last Friday.

"I am happy, and humbled," he said. "I was just in the right moment, in the right place, at the right time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2018, with the headline 'Man receives award for stopping teen from jumping to his death'. Print Edition | Subscribe