BALTIMORE – It has often been said that empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, and emotionally connecting and communicating an incredibly healing message… “you are not alone.”
For Officer Karopchinsky, a two-year veteran with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, and his wife, Ashley, empathy presented itself to them, unexpectedly, on top of a busy highway overpass.
On April 21, Officer Karopchinsky was off-duty and on his way to a comedy show with his wife – it was an early Father’s Day gift from Ashley who had arranged for the young couple to go see one of Officer Karopchinsky’s favorite actors and comedians at a downtown venue in Baltimore. They were running a little late after getting their three young children settled in with a babysitter.
The drive was going well until they reached an overpass on I-95 in Baltimore City, one of those steep overpasses with two overpasses underneath, when they saw an SUV pulled over near the jersey wall and a young woman getting out of the vehicle. Officer Karopchinsky’s immediate thought was to stop and assist the driver whose car he thought was broken down.
But as they pulled up to the SUV, they saw a young woman. She was crying and distraught. Officer Karopchinksy’s wife put her window down and asked if the young lady was okay. She answered “No” and began walking toward the jersey wall overpass. Clearly something was wrong. Very wrong. Officer Karopchinsky quickly pulled over and noticed the young woman leaning over the jersey wall and attempting to hoist herself over saying she wanted to die. Without hesitation, Officer Karopchinsky ran up to the woman, grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to safety.
From there, Officer Karopchinsky and his wife calmed the young lady down. They spoke with her at length, never losing eye contact. In fact, it took them at least 15 minutes before one of them could get to their cell phone to call 9-1-1. At that time, they didn’t want to distract the woman, they wanted to let her know they were listening.
The woman spoke about feeling hopeless, overwhelmed and alone. She said she wasn’t sure how she could go on…and it was right at that moment where things took a deep personal turn for both Officer Karopchinsky and his wife. You see, both of them had personal, relatable experiences to share with the young woman about the pain and suffering that sometimes comes with life and the perseverance it takes to overcome those situations.
When Officer Karopchinsky was a young boy, his father suffered a tragic accident which left him unable to care for himself and his family. His mother and siblings had to figure out ways to keep their family housed, clothed, and fed.
Officer Karopchinsky, who was born and raised in Baltimore City, lived in severe poverty for much of his childhood and he understood the woman’s feelings of despair because he too had felt that way when he was young and unsure of how they would survive their hardships.
He shared with the young lady that he was able to push through high school and graduate, moving on to two years of college before joining the Marines where he served eight years with one tour in Afghanistan. He eventually left the military to pursue a career in which he could readily help people and in 2021, he joined the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
As for Ashely, she empathized with the woman because she, too, had an experience five years ago in which a close, immediate family member had taken his own life. To this day, Ashley continues to support mental health awareness in honor of her relative.
The situation on the overpass hit home for both Officer Karopchinsky and Ashley. They said their timing and encounter with the young lady was something much bigger than them. They were meant to share their personal stories with her and provide hope to the young driver and let her know she was not alone.
About 30 minutes later, an ambulance arrived and took the woman into their care and transported her to a hospital.
Shaken, Officer Karopchinsky and Ashley decided to move forward with the venue; however, by the time they arrived, they had already missed much of the show. It really didn’t matter to them because, in the end, they say they knew they left the young lady in a much better place than when they found her and they hoped by sharing their own experiences of perseverance gave her hope for her future.
We will never truly know what impact their words had with the young lady that night, but we believe Officer Karopchinsky and Ashley made her feel loved and left her knowing she was not alone. We thank Officer Karopchinsky and Ashley for their compassion.
It’s been said the bravest hearts are within those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it and open themselves to help others.
What was the comedy show? Perhaps TBN could reach out to the artist’s management, relay the story and maybe they’ll get to go to another show? That would be fitting for a hero.
You two did a great job. You are to be commended.
And THATS the good I needed to read. Thank you Officer Karopchinsky and Ashley ❤️
what a lovely, inspiring story on cinco de Mayo. This is a special day for maryland.
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