Tuesday Sep 15 2009
Woman safe after suicide attempt on bridge
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Officials convince her suicide not solution to her problems
Placer County personnel were able to talk a woman back over the rail of the Foresthill Bridge after she had been standing on its outer edge for three hours. The standoff closed Foresthill Road to both directions of traffic. The woman, whose identity was not released, could be seen putting one leg over the railing then another after law enforcement officials helped her decide to not jump from the bridge at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bill Walton, along with deputies, negotiators and a law enforcement chaplain were standing near the woman for the duration of the three-hour standoff in a possible suicide attempt. Authorities closed Foresthill Road between Lincoln Way and Old Foresthill Road as they helped the woman. Traffic was diverted through the canyon until the road was reopened shortly after the woman was safe. Walton, who was recently promoted to Foresthill substation commander, was driving from Foresthill early Tuesday afternoon when he saw the woman on the opposite side of the bridge. He said, “Something felt off,” when he saw her looking at him as he crossed the bridge. Walton continued to the cross the bridge until he could make a u-turn. That’s when he saw a maroon Chevrolet Suburban parked on the dirt shoulder of the north side of the bridge. The driver’s-side door was left open and her keys and cell phone were left inside. As Walton was running the vehicle’s license plate number, he looked up and saw the woman climb over the bridge’s rail, according to Dena Erwin, Placer County Sheriff’s spokeswoman. “He was there within seconds when she climbed over the rail,” Erwin said. Walton and other authorities stayed on the roadway for “quite a long time” because the female did not want them to come closer, Erwin said. Deputy Mike Bennett was one of the negotiators speaking to the woman. “They just discussed what was bothering her and tried to come up with ideas and solutions to solve her problems,” Erwin said. Bennett, who is trained to deal with difficult situations, was able to help the woman. “The main thing was to build trust with her so she felt comfortable coming back over the rail on her own accord,” Bennett said. Hostage negotiator detective Paul Long added that the woman eventually climbed back over the rail when she realized there were other options. “What finally persuaded her to come to safety was that she understood that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” Long said. A dispatcher received a 911 call at about 11:44 a.m. from someone reporting a female on the outside of the bridge, according Erwin. Erwin said the woman, who is not from the area, will be transported to a mental health facility to undergo an evaluation. She said no arrest or charge is expected to be made because the woman did not commit a crime. Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.