Tonawanda News

December 11, 2012

Lockport policeman saves teen jumper

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — A quick-thinking member of the Lockport Police Department is being credited for saving the life of a suicidal city teenager on Saturday.

Police responded to the Pine Street bridge around 4:15 p.m. after receiving a call from the boy’s ex-girlfriend that he was on the bridge and “was making threats of harming himself,” reports indicate.

When police arrived they found the distraught teenager on the east side of the bridge, at the Lowertown end.

Chief of Police Larry Eggert said Lt. Scott Abbott grabbed the teenager as he was pushing off.

The entire episode lasted less than a minute. According to Eggert, Abbott hoped to catch the teen by surprise and expected him to be on the edge of the bridge, out of view. Instead, he found the teen still standing on the bridge.

The teen hesitated as Abbott approached, but then made a dash for the edge. Abbott used his 6-foot 7-inch frame to his advantage.

“(Abbott’s) long arms helped. He caught the guy in mid-stride as he was going off,” Eggert said. “The young man was airborne over the railing and Abbott grabbed him by the hoodie.”

Abbott, with the assistance of officers Heather Rohde and Laura Schuler, then brought the teenager under control. The teen was transported to Niagara Falls Medical Center for evaluation.

It is not known why the teen was trying to jump, but Eggert noted that police dispatchers received the 911 call from the ex-girlfriend.

“Hopefully the trip to Niagara Falls will give him the emotional tools to handle things better,” Eggert said.

Eggert said there is a rocky outcropping below where the teen tried to jump, and there was “a fair chance” that he would not have survived the plunge.

Acting in haste probably worked in Abbott’s favor, Eggert said, because there was little time to think about what he was about to do.

“He only had time to react.”

Abbott suffered some minor arm injuries— he might have pulled his shoulder a little — but Eggert said the adrenaline kept Abbott going.

There has been a spate of recent suicide attempts in the city — just recently a man tried to jump off the Prospect Street bridge, and earlier in the fall a man tried to harm himself with a knife. Eggert said there are studies that support the theory that suicide attempts seem to occur in spurts.

Some studies indicate a copycat mentality with those who were already “leaning” toward suicide. In other cases, something may happen that triggers a reaction.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s been impulsive,” Eggert said.

Often, there will be a cry out for help, which was the case in Saturday’s incident, he added.