Fruita couple stop man from suicide, honored for their distinguished service

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, right, congratulates Scott, left, and Jenny Fogarty of Fruita as they receive the Citizen Distinguished Service award on Monday at a Sheriff’s Department ceremony in Grand Junction. The Fogartys stopped while mountain biking to rescue a suicidal man near Loma who was standing at the precipice of a 300-foot cliff. Scott Fogarty was able to talk to the man, while his wife, Jenny, called 911 and alerted law enforcement.

Half a dozen or so riders possibly saw him.

None of them stopped.

Scott and Jenny Fogarty of Fruita did stop. They dismounted their mountain bikes on the Kokopelli Trail near Loma on March 8 because what they saw disturbed them: Inches from the edge of a roughly 300-foot cliff, a man wearing a business suit stood gazing blankly forward.

The Fogartys were a little more than a mile past the trail head of Rustler’s Loop about 5 p.m. Temperature and daylight were slipping away.

“No, not really,” the man replied, when Scott Fogarty asked the man if he was all right.

Scott turned to his wife, signaled her to call 911 and engaged the man in conversation.

The couple’s actions that day were recognized during an awards ceremony Monday at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department as Sheriff Stan Hilkey presented the Fogartys with the department’s Citizen Distinguished Service honor.

“Out of the numerous people who saw the unusual scene of a man in business attire standing at the precipice of a cliff, only the Fogartys stopped to see if something was wrong,” a deputy wrote in a report on the incident.

With Jenny Fogarty in contact with 911 operators and out of sight of her husband, Scott Fogarty listened to the distraught man explain that his wife had just left him and that he was in dire financial straits, according to the report.

The man said he’d tried to buy a handgun to kill himself, but didn’t because the waiting period was too long for a background check.

He tried hanging, but stopped when he said it became too painful.

So on March 8, he went to Loma to die.

“We talked at least about 45 minutes,” Scott Fogarty said. “When we started talking about his kids, I think he really got more interested in staying around.”

With law enforcement assembling out of view of the scene, the man eventually stepped back from the cliff edge and continued talking with Scott Fogarty as they walked together back to the trail head.

“The Sheriff’s Department did a great job of staying back,” Fogarty said.

“If he would have seen them, I’m sure he would have run back up to where he was.”

Deputies found a suicide note inside the man’s vehicle, addressed to his wife and child. The Fogartys, meanwhile, wonder what became of the man they led to safety.

“We just know his first name,” Jenny Fogarty said.


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