Deputy, good Samaritan honored for saving suicidal man

Woman recited song lyrics to calm man on State Road 408

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County deputies honored one of their own as well as a bystander for their roles in saving a man's life, as he sat on the edge of State Road 408 over Old Winter Garden Road in February. 

As hundreds of cars crossed the overpass, Cristina Settanni, who works in health care, turned back when she saw the man sitting on the ledge. She passed the man but as she looked in her rear view mirror, she decided to stop, get out of her car and walk over to him. 

"I stopped because I've been where he is. He needed someone to show they cared," Settanni told deputies.

She sat with him and feared for a moment that he would jump.

In an effort to comfort the man, Settanni recited a lyric from the Linkin Park song "One more light": "Who cares if one more light goes out? Well, I do."

"I didn't know if it clicked with him, but he just cried," she said. 

Soon after, Orange County Sheriff's Office Deputy Shaun Cayer arrived, responding to multiple 911 calls from people who saw the man on the ledge.

"The simple fact that she stepped and wanted to help, makes her a hero in her own right," Cayer added. 

Members of Linkin Park saw what happened and tweeted, "Thank you Cristina."

Bodycam footage shows Settanni sitting next to the man on the overpass bridge, speaking to him in a calm, composed manner. 

When the man refused to step back, Cayer pulled him away to safety. 

"We talked, he started to shift his body weight forward, then I dropped all my weight and pulled him back to the roadway," Cayer said. 

Cayer later learned that bad decisions and family problems are what drove the man to feel that suicide was his only option. 

When asked if he saved a life that day, Cayer said: "I'd like to think so. Hopefully, he took that as a sign." 

The man was not arrested but was taken to a mental health care facility under the Baker Act. 

Settanni says she still thinks about him every day and can't bring herself to take State Road 408 anymore.

Both Settani and Cayer were honored with a medal of merit. 

Crisis counselors at locally operated centers across the U.S. are available 24 hours a day through The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org for help.

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