NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Heroic action on Sunday from members of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Service Unit helped save a man who was threatening to jump off the Williamsburg Bridge.
The man is safe and undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
A tense and high-stakes negotiation tested NYPD officers who scrambled to an off-limits perch on the bridge. They were close enough to talk with a man they said was suicidal.
“He essentially could’ve jumped at any time,” Det. Thomas Longa said.
The officers climbed to a spot of the suspension cable that was 30 feet above the bridge roadway.
Longa said he was the first to make contact and he told the distraught man, “Nothing that’s going on in his life would be worth him ending it.”
Doing this life-saving work requires skill and training, no fear of heights and patience, CBS2’s Carlin reported. The members of the unit are trained for situations like what they found themselves in on Sunday. They begin with a lot of listening.
The breakthrough moment meant the man agreed to come down, so a harness was put on him and together with officers he now trusted he was carefully lowered to safety and taken to Bellevue Hospital for for a psychiatric evaluation.
Witnesses had nothing but praise for the NYPD officers. The bridge reopened to foot and vehicle traffic after about 75 minutes.
“I’ve got to applaud them for getting up there,” tourist Jerad Haddad said. “Very stressful situation.”
“Life is precious. I think we need to save it, guard it as much as we can and any chance that we can,” tourist Lisa Blust added.
“I feel I did a good job today. We saved somebody,” Det. Christopher Williams said.
The last time Det. Williams’ skills were put to the test he was hanging on at the Statue of Liberty, with cameras rolling. It was July 4 and a woman needed convincing. That incident also ended well.
“It’s a satisfying experience when you’re able to get the person off and out of that dangerous situation,” Det. Longa said.
In a single Sunday work shift, a bridge was climbed, a life was saved and a crisis ended.
Police said the safety gates on the bridge would have prevented the man from jumping into the water. At most, he would have fallen 30 feet to the roadway below.