Two TSA officers teamed with a pair of managers to help save a suicidal passenger’s life at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).
It all started when TSA Supervisory Officer Aneuris Alberto Javier heard a bystander state to him, “that lady might need your help” in which he noticed the passenger’s bags unattended while she was on the other side of the glass wall by the escalator.
When he approached her, she told him this was the easiest thing to do and nobody cared.
“Mental health is of great importance,” said Alberto Javier. “As a society, we do not do enough to help and educate on awareness and how to handle and communicate properly with someone suffering from mental health issues.”
Alberto Javier, Lead TSA Officer Troy Bunker and TSA Manager Antuan DeBose tried keeping the passenger engaged at a distance.
Bunker was able to approach the passenger and begin safely speaking with her. “TSA helped me prepare for this situation by providing me with suicide intervention training as well as advanced resolution conversation training,” said Bunker. “I feel like I was able to utilize the skills that I learned from both of those pieces of training in this situation.”
Bunker was able to partially restrain the passenger, who began yelling, then temporarily freed herself before again attempting to go for the railing.
Mental health is a very important topic, not just for my officers and me, but it is a very complex subject,” said Bunker. “It is a subject that affects millions of people worldwide. It is very important to want to help others to ensure we all stay focused not just on TSA’s mission and goals but our own goals and aspirations as well.”
BOS TSA Terminal Manager Veronica Manning-Weathers heard the commotion and went to check on the situation. “Lead TSA Officer Bunker’s engagement and physical help when he grabbed the passenger was instrumental in bringing her across the railing and ensuring the passenger was secured in a safe area,” she said.
Manning-Weathers asked the passenger if she could focus on her and if the passenger was able to tell the manager her name.
Massachusetts State Police then arrived.
“My interaction was mainly to try and calm her,” said Manning-Weathers. “Eventually, being able to get her to sit and provide her first name by recognizing she did not like law enforcement or uniforms. It is important to understand some of the outward and inward signs of depression or mental health to provide help in conjunction with available resources. Our training from inception has all been designed to ensure awareness of our surroundings which fortunately Supervisor Alberto Javier was able to utilize.”
TSA personnel left the scene to allow police to give the passenger the help she needed.
“Considering the outcome of the situation, I do not think I would go back and change anything,” said Bunker. “I am just glad everybody involved in the situation came out of it safely.”
By Chelsea Hayes Maddy, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs