By Bret H. McCormick
River Parishes bureau
September 10, 2012
Traffic on U.S. 190 in Baton Rouge was shut down for more than three hours Friday when a woman climbed to the top of the Mississippi River bridge and threatened to jump.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said the 26-year-old female, whose identity was not released, climbed a bridge access ladder and threatened to jump before negotiators from the East Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge sheriff’s offices talked her down.
Sheriff’s officials were notified of the incident when a driver on the bridge called 911 at 4:07 p.m. and reported seeing a woman get out of a vehicle and climb up a ladder. A detective from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office made first contact with the woman, and was soon joined by two East Baton Rouge negotiators, Gautreaux said.
“It got tense at one point when she stood up on the side rail,” Gautreaux said.
A deputy climbed the access ladder to make direct contact with the woman, Gautreaux said.
The deputy secured the woman, got her placed in a harness and she was removed by an East Side Fire Department ladder truck, the sheriff said. She then was safely transported to a local hospital, he said.
Officials from the East Baton Rouge and West Baton Rouge sheriff’s office and the Baton Rouge Police Department assisted with traffic control, as traffic on both sides of the river had to be diverted off U.S. 190. Both lanes of the highway reopened around 7:30 p.m., Gautreaux said.
The sheriff said the woman had recently lost her job and had left a suicide note in her vehicle.
The incident was handled safely and didn’t have a tragic ending due to a “remarkable feat of bravery,” said Gautreaux, who was on scene at the bridge and witnessed the negotiators in action. The scene ended well because all of the officials were willing to work together.
“I was proud of what I witnessed from all of them,” Gautreaux said.