Cops, Firefighters Save Suicidal Man’s Life
by Paul Bass | Mar 11, 2013 1:33 pm
Posted to: Fair Haven
A man was intent on jumping off a Fair Haven roof Monday—requiring a host of cops and firefighters to rush to the scene for a dramatic rescue.
It was touch and go for a while.
The tense incident occurred around 11 a.m. on Houston Street near the Quinnipiac River.
Here’s what happened, according to Assistant Fire Chief Pat Egan and police Sgt. Tony Reyes:
A young man stood outside a third-story window in the rear of the three-story home.
He looked down preparing to jump.
A crew from the Lombard Street fire station rushed to the scene along with Fair Haven cops.
Top Fair Haven cop Sgt. Herb Johnson, among others, called up to him, trying to calm him down and convince him not to jump.
“You want a ladder to help you down?” the man was asked.
He didn’t respond. Bracing himself on the eave of the roof, he looked down, appearing determined to leap.
The firefighters had a 35-foot ladder ready. But they didn’t want to place it in front of the man for fear that would cause him to jump. They positioned it nearby.
Meanwhile, police Officers Diego Quintero and Elvin Rivera ran upstairs. Rivera positioned himself on a stairwell landing about 10 feet below the window outside of which the man stood, which was at a corner of the house. Rivera used a ladder to get close to the window. Quintero went to an attic crawl space that had a small opening at a 90-degree angle to the stairwell window.
“Don’t jump,” the officers on the ground continued to urge the man. “Think of your family.”
Egan and Reyes each backed up one of the officers, by the window and by the crawl-space opening. As it appeared the man was preparing to leap, Rivera and Quintero grabbed his legs. Egan and Reyes reached out to grab the man’s legs as well.
The openings were too small to pull the man in, because he had stiffened his legs.
“We were grabbing on for dear life,” Reyes said. “There was no room for error.”
Reyes, a hostage negotiator by training, kept trying to win the man’s trust. “Listen,” he told the man, “all these people are here because we care about you and we want to make sure you’re safe. That’s all we care about. You’re not in any trouble.”
The man was unmoved.
At that point, firefighters put the 35-ladder in place. Fire Lt. Frank Ricci and firefighter Tim Borer climbed up. Ricci climbed first. As Borer held Ricci in place, Ricci succeeded in getting the man’s legs to bend. At that point the two firefighters pushed and the officers pulled the man through the window into the stairwell.
A struggle continued inside. Reyes said he and other officers kept reassuring the man. Finally they wrestled him to control. They didn’t end up needing to handcuff him. The officers walked him outside to a gurney; the man was then transported to the hospital.
“It’s scary: This could have gone the other way,” Reyes said later. “You dread the idea of not being able to effectively do your job. The family was there.”
In the end, he said, “it was a relief.” The man was safe. No one got hurt. A life was saved. “These are the days,” Reyes reflected, when “we earn our keep.”
Tags: suicide, Pat Egan, Tony Reyes, Diego Quintero, Elvin Rivera
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Good job Quintero, Rivera, Reyes, Egan, and all the others who helped out! We need men like you in our city.
And thank you Paul Bass for telling the story -