Video: SC officer saves suicidal man after bonding over football

Officer Michael Blackmore found they both shared a love of football and was able to talk the suicidal man off the bridge

By Glen Luke Flanagan
The State

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Eight minutes and 30 seconds – that’s how long it took Master Patrol Officer Michael Blackmore to talk a man out of jumping off a bridge into traffic early Saturday morning.

The rescue is shown on body-worn camera video captured by the Columbia Police Department. Blackmore and two other officers, along with two EMS workers, responded to the 3600 block of Farrow Road and found the man crying, sitting on the guardrail with his feet dangling over S.C. 277.

The time? 3:45 a.m., according to the incident report.

It’s not clear from video footage or the incident report why the man was ready to jump. He can be heard on video telling Blackmore that he’s tired of living. But the 35-year-old officer wouldn’t accept that.

“I have bad nights, too, sometimes,” Blackmore told him.

As they talked, Blackmore made his way closer. The two began to talk football.

“I just wanted to get his mind off of what was bothering him,” Blackmore told The State in an interview Thursday.

He found out the man was a fan of the Washington Redskins and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

“You’re just having a bad night tonight,” Blackmore told him. “But tomorrow night, when you’re sitting around and you’re watching the Gamecocks – or on Sunday when you’re watching the Redskins play or whatever – you’ll look back (like), ‘Man, what was I thinking Friday night?’ You’re just having a bad night.”

Finally, Blackmore was able to grab the man’s wrist with both hands, and his two fellow officers – Charles Browder and Jessica Nolan – helped lift the man back over the railing. Blackmore reassured the man he wasn’t in trouble and wasn’t going to jail.

As the man stepped into the ambulance, responders allowed themselves a brief moment of thanksgiving – with one EMS worker high-fiving Blackmore before closing the ambulance doors.

The man was taken to Palmetto Health Richland hospital, according to the incident report.

This isn’t the first time Blackmore has had to talk someone out of taking his own life. Just a month ago, he was first on the scene where a man seemed prepared to jump from a parking garage on Main Street. Browder – who is in training with the police department – was with him for that as well.

“It was pretty much the same exact thing,” Blackmore said. “I ended up talking to the guy about football. He told me he was a Notre Dame fan.”

It’s also not the first time this year that video footage has showed Midlands officers dealing with such a situation.

In July, two Richland County sheriff’s deputies talked a man out of jumping into traffic on S.C. 277 from an overpass on Parklane Road. That rescue was caught on dash cam.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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