It happened Thursday in the city of Guangzhou as Chen Fuchao threatened to jump off Haizhu Bridge, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
The bridge has gained a “macabre” reputation with 11 jumpers having thrown themselves off the bridge since the start of April, Xinhua said.
Traffic was held up for nearly five hours and a crowd gathered as Chen sat on the bridge, threatening to jump, Xinhua reported.
Chen wanted to kill himself because he had 2 million yuan ($294,000) in debt after a failed construction project, Xinhua reported.
Lian Jiansheng, 66, who was passing by the bridge, offered to talk Chen down, Xinhua said. Police refused, but Lian broke through the police cordon and climbed to where Chen was sitting.
Lian greeted Chen with a handshake, then pushed him off the bridge, Xinhua said.
Chen fell 26 feet (8 meters) onto a partially-inflated emergency air cushion, damaging his spine and elbow in the fall, Xinhua said. He is now recovering in a hospital.
A photographer documented the sequence of events. The photographs show Lian, dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and socks, saluting to the crowd after pushing Chen off.
“I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest,” Lian told Xinhua. “They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities’ attention to their appeals.”
Police took Lian away after the incident, Xinhua said. It did not say whether he would face any charges.