Police and Fire personnel risk lives to save suicidal man

A joint effort of the Minneapolis Fire and Police Departments, with help from State troopers and semi-truck drivers, ended in the successful rescue of a man threatening to commit suicide by jumping off of the Groveland Avenue Bridge onto I-94.

Just after 10 a.m., April 16 officers from the Fifth Precinct and personnel from the Fire Department’s Rescue 1 crew responded to a 911 call of a man on the outside of the overpass bridge fencing. Officers who first arrived at the bridge attempted to talk to the man, but he would not respond. Shortly afterward, personnel from the Police Department’s SWAT negotiations team and SWAT officers trained in technical rescue were dispatched to the scene.

Negotiators also attempted establish a dialogue with the man without success as State Patrol troopers shut down I-94 in both directions. Meanwhile Fire Department personnel cut the fencing in several places to give the man access to come back onto the bridge deck.

State troopers arranged for several semi-tractor trailers to park with their trailers under the man to prevent his free fall from the bridge deck onto the concrete below. Eventually, six trucks were pulled into position where they could have cut the man's potential fall by half or more. As this was done, a firefighter was roped to a nearby fire truck and stood by.

After approximately 75 minutes, the man came near one of the openings in the fencing. When he did so, a firefighter, who was not roped-in, grabbed onto the man.  Three police officers entered the gap in the fencing to grab the man. None of these officers was roped-in to prevent their fall from the bridge. Another SWAT officer, who was untethered, and the roped-in firefighter went over the top of the fence to pull the man, who had let go of the fence, to safety. All of the other police and fire personnel on-scene grabbed onto the rescuers and each other to prevent anyone from falling. Police also reported that one of the officers, in a T-shirt, was cut as he attempted from the top of the fence to grab onto the man.

The man, who was unharmed, struggled with officers after he was rescued, but was quickly restrained and eventually transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by emergency medical service for evaluation and treatment. Without the intervention of public safety personnel, the man would have faced near-certain death had he jumped or fallen.


Published Apr 26, 2012