South Dakota snow plow driver saves man from completing suicide during winter storm

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A Sioux Falls snow plow operator is being recognized for saving a man’s life during a snow storm.

Brian Rypkema has been plowing snow for the City of Sioux Falls for over 13 years. He says while some call him a ‘hero’ for what he did, but he says that he was just doing his job.

Thursday, February 4 is a night snow plow operator Brian Rypkema will never forget; it was originally forecasted to get less than an inch of snow.

“I think we ended up getting three or four inches that night. And, when this happened, it was coming down… I mean, you couldn’t see maybe a block or so,” Rypkema said.

But it’s what he could see that brought his plow to a complete halt. There was a man hanging off the side of the bridge at 41st at I-29.

“I looked twice, and I’m like, ‘am I seeing this right?’ I quick pulled the brake and went running out and called 9-1-1 right away,” Rypkema said.

Rypkema then started talking with the man, trying to convince him not to jump into oncoming traffic.

“I don’t even remember everything I said, I remember the main thing I kept saying is, ‘life is too short, dude. It’s not worth it,’ and he kept saying, ‘I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. I’m just going to get hurt a little bit,’” Rypkema said.

Before police arrived, he told his partner to park his sand truck under the bridge to block off traffic. By the time it got down there, Rypkema had successfully convinced the man not to jump.

“We need more people to notice those in need – their neighbors in need and step up to do something to help,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

It’s an act that caught the attention of Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. He awarded Rypkema a piece of granite that symbolizes the core values the city is built on.

TenHaken awards Rypkema. Courtesy: City of Sioux Falls Facebook

“He just cared for someone at, quite honestly, the lowest point in their life. And, if we all did that, if we all did more of that, what an incredible community we would have,” TenHaken said.

If you ask Rypkema, he’ll tell you that he didn’t do it for the attention, and he’d even go as far to tell you that he doesn’t see himself as a hero…

“I know I did the right thing, but I’m not a- I don’t feel like that, I guess,” Rypkema said.

…But what he did see was someone who could use it more than him.

“I guess, if I was in his shoes, and you drove by, I’d hope you would do the same,” Rypkema said.

If you are or know someone who is struggling with mental health, we have some resources that can help.

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