Tourist hailed for halting Dean Bridge suicide bid

Shadiya Chaib grabbed the distressed woman who was standing on the wall of the Dean Bridge. Picture: Neil Hanna
Shadiya Chaib grabbed the distressed woman who was standing on the wall of the Dean Bridge. Picture: Neil Hanna
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An Australian visitor who stopped a suicidal woman from throwing herself from a city landmark has returned to Scotland to pick up an honour.

Shadiya Chaib had been walking over the Dean Bridge last summer when she came across a woman standing on the wall, about to jump.

Ms Chaib said she “didn’t think twice” about grabbing the woman – who was struggling violently – before other passers-by stopped to help and dialled 999.

Now her quick-thinking actions have been recognised at a special ceremony at Edinburgh Castle.

The 27-year-old, who had been working as a nanny in the Capital, travelled from Melbourne for the event.

The Brave@Heart awards, organised by the Scottish Government, celebrate the courage of the emergency services, voluntary workers and members of the public.

Ms Chaib was among 24 people to be commended at the event hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond.

She had been taking a 12-year-old boy in her care out for the day in June last year when they spotted the 
distressed woman.

“I didn’t think twice about it,” Ms Chaib said. “As soon as I realised what she was doing, I just dropped everything and ran. I wanted to make sure that she got back over, which was proving difficult because of the metal spikes on the Dean Bridge.

“It took seven of us to get her back over. It was a struggle – she wasn’t very helpful. I don’t even know how she got up there, she had her shoe stuck.”

Ms Chaib said the gravity of the situation hit home when she found the woman’s car keys, which had a picture of three young boys on a keyring.

She said: “I kind of went into shock. It’s a bit blurry because it was all very quick but she moved quickly, that’s for sure. I don’t remember much, just the police being there. Hopefully she regretted what she did and she got the help she needed.”

Ms Chaib travelled to Edinburgh for the award ceremony with her aunt and older brother, and plans to visit Skye and Paris before heading home.

She said: “It was amazing, unbelievable. I was just speechless at the grand hall at Edinburgh Castle. It’s been so nice to come back.”

Among the other recipients was Shona Chalmers, 16, of Bonnyrigg. She was on her way to first aid training with her mother when they saw an elderly man being hit by a car.

While her mum attended to the casualty, Shona took charge of directing traffic to protect her mother and the casualty, and managed onlookers to stop them spilling on to the road.

Judges said Shona “showed calm determination and maturity beyond her years to assist the elderly casualty and ensure the safety of members of the public”.

Mr Salmond said: “It’s extraordinary to hear first-hand about the emotions, the events, the incredible strength of character – selfless acts that are the very difference between life and death. Scotland should be proud of its heroes and recognise their achievements.”

Police also recognised for courage

Several Lothians police officers were also recognised for their courage.

Constable Garrett Hughes was recognised for saving a 14-year-old girl who tried to kill herself in the sea at Prestonpans on Hogmanay last year.

He swam out to her and got her back to shore, after finding her already unconscious and her face partially submerged. PC Hughes got the girl back to shore where medical staff said his actions had saved her life.

Meanwhile Constables John Andrews, Lewis Dalgetty, Keith Tulloch and Temporary Sergeant Keith Scott were recognised for evacuating residents from a smoke-filled stairwell serving 16 flats. Three of them were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

“It comes down to just doing your job, it was a natural instinct, when you know you have people’s lives at risk,” said Temp Sgt Scott.