A WOMAN who was moments away from jumping off a bridge has tracked down the stranger that stopped her - and thanked him for saving her life.

Reya Pettitt, 24, was standing on the edge of a bridge on the A27 when a man came to her rescue.

Ken Mitchell spotted her on the bridge, grabbed her coat and told her: “If you go, I am going with you.”

Ken then opened up about his wife’s death in order to convince Reya to speak to him.

The Argus: The A27 was closed at Falmer as emergency services tried to remove her from the bridgeThe A27 was closed at Falmer as emergency services tried to remove her from the bridge

Reya told The Argus: “I was really done mentally and couldn’t see any other way out than to die.

“I had just climbed over the barrier of the bridge and a few cars had pulled up.

“Ken came over and started speaking to me as I was walking along the barrier.

“He was really kind and compassionate. Quite often I have been in a few situations where I have come into contact with people in the public and it hasn’t been a positive experience.

“He was really lovely and managed to get me to speak.”

READ MORE > The moment emergency services were called to the bridge

Reya had scaled the barrier in January in an attempt to end her life after the deteriorating state of her mental health caused her to be in and out of the hospital for two years.

Ken, a management consultant from Lewes, was on his way back from an evening dinner with his girlfriend when they spotted her.

He said: “She looked emotionless as if she was ready to go.

“My first reaction was to grab hold of her. I got both of my hands on either side and held onto her coat. I didn’t let go until the last opportunity to get her over.

“I told her ‘if you go, I am going with you’.

“She was determined to jump.”

The Argus: Ken Mitchell spend over an hour with ReyaKen Mitchell spend over an hour with Reya

Ken spent more than an hour talking to Reya, opening up about his life, including the loss of his wife, who he had been with for 25 years, to breast cancer.

Meanwhile, motorists on the A27 below had slowed to a halt as they observed the events above.

He said: “Speaking to her, the more that I realised that the system had perhaps let her down badly.

“She wouldn’t move at all but over a period of time, she did share some information.

“The relationship we had between us with just her and I and the universe.

“I kept saying to her ‘I won’t ever forget you, ever’.”

Officers allowed Ken to carry on talking to Reya and after gripping onto her for over an hour, she eventually decided to climb back over the railings and to safety.

The pair went more than nine months without speaking to one another until Reya attempted to track Ken down on Facebook to thank him.

Her post, which was shared almost a thousand times, pleaded with anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact her.

Reya added: “I found him really quickly. I made a Facebook post because I had been thinking about it as it has always stuck in my head as to how lovely he was

“I wanted to say thank you. Within a couple of hours his girlfriend, who was with him that night, said it was them.

"I can't emphasise enough how important it is to reach out for help. If other people can reach out to their GPs then it is definitely worth getting the support in place."

Ken said: “I was taken aback that she was trying to find me - I was really shocked.”

The pair have now arranged to meet again after lockdown.

For confidential support, call the Samaritans on 116123, visit a local branch or go to the website www.samaritans.org