UK
21/10/2015 07:19 BST | Updated 21/10/2015 08:59 BST

Rugby Player Michael Owen Held Stranger's Hand For An Hour As She Threatened To Jump Off M4 Bridge

A rugby player clung on to a woman's hand for more than an hour after she threatened to jump off an M4 bridge.

Michael Owen, 22, held the woman's hand as he helped keep her from falling into a busy motorway.

Owen was driving with girlfriend Jemma Richards when they noticed the distressed woman standing on the edge of a bridge near Chippenham, Wiltshire.

michael owen and jemma richards

Michael Owen and his girlfriend Jemma Richards (pictured) approached the woman after noticing her close to a motorway bridge

The woman had jumped over the bridge's safety railings and was facing the busy M4 motorway below.

Owen, who plays for Chinnor Rugby Club, told Wales News Service: "We were driving over the bridge when my partner pointed out a woman standing on the other side of the bridge.

"I immediately pulled over to try and slow down the traffic and to help her.

"I got to her and started talking to her. She was clearly very upset, so I just talked about anything I could think of with her."

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Owen, who also works as a bouncer, said the woman seemed to calm down after hearing his broad Welsh accent.

He made sure he held on to her hand to make sure she didn't slip, despite having broken his finger playing rugby.

Two fire engines were soon on the scene, but Owen, who is 6ft 5, stayed with the woman for more than an hour as she was too scared to climb down.

Michael said: "We waited a good hour, because she was too frightened to go down a ladder, so they needed to bring out a second engine.

michael owen

Owen plays for Chinnor Rugby Club

"The police closed off the road and parked a lorry underneath the bridge, just in case she fell off."

Back home in Cwmavon, South Wales, Owen's sister, Sarah, said she couldn't be prouder.

She said: "I am just so proud of him for his actions, I could just burst with pride, and I know the entire family could too.

"He has an amazing personality and a huge heart, which is evident from his actions here."

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41