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Police save suicidal woman from jumping off overpass

October 9, 2018

POCATELLO — Five Pocatello police officers reportedly intervened in the nick of time Saturday night to prevent a suicidal woman from jumping off the Monte Vista Drive overpass onto Interstate 15 below.

Police had received a call of a woman sitting on the top of the bridge’s protective fence.

Officer Jeff Eldridge, Officer Tyler Anderson, Officer Lance Cartwright, Sgt. Derek Daniels and Sgt. Val Wadsworth responded to the area at 9:10 p.m., according to a police report.

Anderson reportedly arrived at the scene on I-15 and radioed his colleagues that he could see the woman sitting atop the fence, facing the northbound lanes of the interstate.

The woman’s husband, carrying two infants, and two children ran toward officers Eldridge and Anderson as they approached her on the bridge, according to the report.

The husband was reportedly shouting to his wife not to jump and to come down from the fence, prompting Eldridge to calm him down to avoid further agitating her.

Meanwhile, Anderson grasped her right hand through the fence, and the woman’s oldest daughter held tight to her left hand. Both Anderson and the daughter pleaded with her to return to safety.

But the mother told her daughter she’d be better off with her dad, police said.

Wadsworth and Daniels blocked both ends of the overpass to traffic, and Eldridge called for dispatchers to send emergency medical personnel, in case of injuries, police said.

“I saw Julie lean and slide forward on the fence towards the drop onto the overpass,” Eldridge said in the police report. “I jumped and pulled myself up to where I could grab the hood of (her) jacket. I pulled (her) backwards against the chain-link fence.”

Eldridge and Anderson reportedly grabbed her arms, and Wadsworth helped them lift her to where they could grab her and pull her back over the fence.

Eldridge said in his report that she was cooperative.

″(She) was immediately surrounded by her children,” he said in the report. “I gave (her) a moment with her children before I escorted her to my patrol vehicle.”

The officers involved had worked a late shift and were not available for comment Monday. Pocatello Police Capt. Ron Knapp said the lieutenant on shift that night has already submitted a request for some officers involved in the response to receive awards.

Knapp said the department participates in 40 hours of annual training focusing on how to respond to people in crisis situations. The next such training is scheduled to take place over five days, starting on Nov. 5, and is open to other area departments, he said. The training follows the Memphis Police Department’s crisis intervention training model, he said.

Knapp said the training helps officers to identify “the help someone might need and not just effect an arrest.”

Knapp said the department’s protocol is to take people in crisis to the hospital for evaluation. A designated examiner from the state then determines if a person meets criteria to continue a protective hold.

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