Taking Action: Kirtland Airmen save a life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Karissa Dick
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

On a Thursday afternoon everything seemed to be going like a typical day would in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Though for two Airmen, they would soon realize that they were put in the right place at the right time. A chance to save a life was bestowed upon them.

On May 16, 2022, Tech. Sgt. Gregory Mitchell, 377th Command Post noncommissioned officer-in-charge of operations, and Airman 1st Class James Catalanatto, 377th Security Forces Squadron defender, were among a small group of passerby’s who stopped to prevent a man from jumping off an overpass into oncoming traffic.

While driving home, Mitchell noticed a man clinging to the top of an overpass fence barrier. Without hesitation, Mitchell made his next move. “When I exited my vehicle and approached him on foot it was easy to see he was very distressed,” explained Mitchell.  “I could see that look on his face and I knew I couldn’t leave him.”

After making contact with the man, Mitchell called 911 and talked to an operator while also trying to calm the man. Eventually a small crowd of people stopped to help including Catalanatto.

“After others started showing up, a psychiatrist in the crowd did most of the talking to the man, while myself, A1C Catalanatto, and another passerby positioned ourselves in case we needed to brute force snatch him down from on top of the barrier,” said Mitchell.

Paying close attention to the man, Mitchell, Catalanatto, and the other bystanders were frozen in position and ready to jump into action if needed, but fortunately the man decided to come down on his own.

Shortly after, Albuquerque Police Department officers arrived to assist and escort the man to the Hospital for further help and evaluation.

“He was very anxious when the police arrived so I talked to him and explained they were here to help and had no ulterior motives,” explained Mitchell. “Eventually he calmed down and became more cooperative with the police.”

 Continuing to perform their responsibilities, both Airmen helped escort the man’s car to the hospital where the man was being treated.

“He was very worried and upset about his car so after he left in an ambulance we talked with the police and decided me and Mitchell would drive the car to the hospital for him,” explained Catalanatto. “Sergeant Mitchell drove the man’s car and I followed behind him so I could give him a ride back to his own car.”

Catalanatto knew they did the right thing when they stopped to save this man from taking his own life.

“I just hope that man is doing alright and doing better in his life,” said Catalanatto. “Everyone matters and every life matters. Everybody’s going through things and you don’t know what they’re going through, but you just have to help them as much as possible.”