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Video: Mo. cop grabs bridge jumper by ankles

The suicidal man hurled his body over the overpass, which hung about 60 feet above the highway

By Brian Burnes
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No call is routine, Sgt. Steven Griswold said Wednesday.

What happened last weekend, when Griswold grabbed a man and prevented him from throwing himself off a south Kansas City interstate overpass, proved one more example of that.

"It started out as a stranded motorist call," Griswold said.

Early Saturday morning, he headed to a ramp from Interstate 49 to Interstate 470 in the Three Trails Crossing. Along the way, the call turned more urgent: A caller had notified police that the same stranded motorist had called her, saying he was suicidal.

Like many law enforcement officers across Kansas City and the country, Griswold had received Crisis Intervention Team training, which seeks to improve encounters between public safety personnel and community members dealing with mental health issues.

But that wasn't why he got the call.

"I was the closest," Griswold said.

The 15-second video released Wednesday by Kansas City police shows what happened next.

Griswold pulled his patrol car up behind the man's vehicle. The driver had left his car and was standing on the ramp beside a concrete barrier. The drop to the interstate below, police later estimated, measured about 60 feet.

"I got about 10 feet away," Griswold said.

The driver began to lean over the barrier.

Griswold reacted.

"He threw the top half of his body over the concrete barrier," Griswold said. "I grabbed his ankles before he flipped over."

Griswold pulled him back onto the pavement. Although the driver did not speak, Griswold sensed his relief at being pulled back. Authorities took the man to receive treatment.

While Griswold said he had never had a call quite like this in a 12-year Kansas City police career, he deflected any praise while meeting reporters Wednesday at the South Patrol station.

"I feel kind of silly getting any attention over this," he said. "You don't have time to talk, you just react.
"And then I was on to the next call."

Copyright 2013 The Kansas City Star

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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