Jump from 9th Street Bridge in New Kensington averted

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:41 a.m.

A potential suicide was averted Tuesday when a New Kensington man was talked off a bridge pier under the Ninth Street Bridge.

New Kensington Detective Dino DiGiacobbe said a friend of the 27-year-old man managed to talk him into climbing up a 10-foot access ladder and onto the bridge deck shortly before 9 p.m.

Police would not identify the man, who was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison for a psychiatric evaluation.

The Valley News Dispatch does not report suicide attempts unless they occur in a public place.

DiGiacobbe said Arnold police received a call from the man's former girlfriend earlier saying that he might hurt himself. Arnold and New Kensington police were alerted to be on the lookout for him in the late afternoon or early evening.

DiGiacobbe said that a woman driving onto the Ninth Street Bridge about 8:10 p.m. alerted police that she spotted a man running on the bridge and then climbing over the side.

Traffic was shut down on both ends of the bridge as police started a dialogue with the man, who was sitting on the bridge pier about midway across the Allegheny River.

The New Kensington Fire Department Water Rescue Team had two boats in the water within 15 minutes of the call, ready to attempt a rescue if the man jumped.

Police brought his ex-girlfriend and some friends to the scene to talk to him.

“He (said) that he was contemplating jumping,” DiGiacobbe said, adding that the man had threatened to hurt himself in the past.

“He just stated that he's dealing with some issues,” the detective said.

DiGiacobbe said police located an unidentified friend and brought him to the scene.

“Within five minutes of his friend getting there, he talked him up.

“He came up and they embraced,” he said, adding that it was an emotional scene with the troubled man screaming and crying.

DiGiacobbe said the friend, who he believes was located in Brackenridge, got into an ambulance with the would-be jumper and accompanied him to the hospital.

DiGiacobbe praised the cooperation New Kensing-ton received from other police departments including Arnold, Lower Burrell, Upper Burrell, East Deer, Tarentum and Brackenridge.

“The other departments were instrumental in locating a friend of his and bringing him to the scene,” the detective said.

The detective credited three officers, in particular, as playing key roles: Westmoreland County Deputy Sheriff Steve Felder, the first to arrive, and two trained crisis negotiators, Lower Burrell Detective Scott Cardenas and New Kensington Officer Robert Laporte.

“From the time of the call, it was just great cooperation between all the departments,” DiGiacobbe said.

It was the second recent bridge incident.

On June 26, Greggory Felton, 28, of Tarentum jumped to his death from the Tarentum Bridge shortly before 11 p.m. after escaping from a mental health treatment facility in West Deer about an hour before.

Felton had survived a jump from the same bridge in May 2009, police said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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