Video: A traffic delay becomes an emotional moment for the Connecticut soldier and Army veteran who needed help

A routine traffic stop on a Connecticut freeway became an emotional moment between a state police officer and a US Army veteran who was contemplating suicide.

Trooper Kyle Kaelberer was conducting traffic stops on Sunday, September 11, when he saw a vehicle stop and activate its hazard lights on Interstate 84 near exit 68. Kaelberer stopped to help the motorist, who was posing as a US Army veteran. The man was in distress and said he spoke on the phone with an adviser on the Veterans Administration’s suicide prevention hotline, Connecticut state police said.

“We’re helping you, all right, mate?” Kaelberer told the veteran, according to body camera footage released by state police. “I am here with you. I’m here with you, okay?”

Kaelberer said he would call an ambulance. When the man argued that he couldn’t afford one, the police officer assured him that the state would pay for it. He then asked the veteran if he would get out of his vehicle to speak.

“It’s a difficult time for everyone in your position, I’m here with you,” said Kaelberer.

The distraught man asked if he could have a hug and Kaelberer hugged him.

State police said Kaelberer then helped the veteran get medical attention. In a Facebook post, police urged Connecticut residents to call 988 if they or anyone they know is contemplating suicide.

“We encourage [people contemplating suicide] Call 988, call 911 if it’s immediate and we’ll answer.” Sgt. Christine Jeltema told the Hartford Courant. “988 will also respond to them and get them the help they need.”

Jeltema said drivers in distress should activate their hazard lights, as the veteran did, if they need help. She said state troopers are trained to assist motorists who activate their hazard lights even when they are off-duty.

Jeltema explained that drivers can stop with their hazard lights on if they need directions or something is wrong with their vehicle. In this case, a man who needed help got it.

“I just think the other side of law enforcement is that compassion,” Jetelema said. “We are trained to deal with people who are inside [a] mental health crisis, and that’s something we as police officers and law enforcement do every day.”

State Police noted that September is Suicide Prevention Month. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 immediately. Advisors are also available for discussions You are not alone. It’s not too late to turn to someone who can help you. Video: A traffic delay becomes an emotional moment for the Connecticut soldier and Army veteran who needed help

Laura Coffey

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