Passers-by, Policeman Talk Man Out of Jumping Off Bridge
A man is alive Tuesday night because of some quick work by two good Samaritans and Albemarle County's top cop.
The man was acting like he was going to jump from a bridge when the three stepped in.
It was a situation Col. Steve Sellers and two people driving by never thought they would find themselves in, but being in the right place at the right time helped save a man's life.
Russ Hass was one of the drivers who stopped.
"As the police got out of the car I saw that he got onto the bridge and both feet and looked like he was about ready to jump so I just walked over and grabbed him," Hass said.
Hass was headed north on Route 29 around noon on Tuesday when he saw something unusual.
"As I was driving over there I saw this man on the bridge praying and I said that's kind of weird that he's sitting on the bridge praying," Hass said.
Hass turned his car around. When he got to the bridge, a woman was trying to get the man off the ledge. The duo tried to talk him down and called 911.
Sellers was the closest to the scene - and the situation soon escalated.
"As I approached the gentleman began to lurch forward. This gentleman grabbed his shirt, I grabbed both of his wrists and we pulled him down off the wall," Sellers said.
Sellers and the other officers were eventually able to talk the man off the ledge, saving him from what would have been a 42-foot drop into the shallow waters of the Rivanna River below.
"I was able to de-escalate his agitation and eventually get him to sit down on the bridge with me and continue our dialogue," Sellers said.
Sellers credits the two people who stepped in and the skills he learned in crisis intervention training for saving the man's life, skills his officers often use.
"I would have to say every 24-hour period officers encounter somebody who is in a mental crisis situation, having the worst day of their life and need some sort of intervention so the training is critical," Sellers said.
Hass does not consider himself a hero but says he wishes more people would have stopped.
"Personally for myself I don't feel like I did anything special. I think it's something we should do," Hass said.
The man is safe and is getting the help he needs.
Sellers says his officers attend crisis intervention training a couple of times a year. Right now 75 percent of Albemarle County officers are CIT-certified.
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