SC deputy pulls man off bridge ledge before he could jump

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GREENVILLE, S.C. — A Greenville County deputy’s quick action saved a man before he could jump off a bridge, WHNS reported.

The deputy was wearing a body camera, and the sheriff’s office released the video to FOX Carolina to show how a split-second decision saved a life.

Thursday, a man was seen with his feet dangling off the Interstate 85 bridge above blocked traffic on Laurens Road.

When investigators weren’t getting far talking him down, Deputy Gene Clark said he saw an opportunity to step in before it was too late.

Working traffic patrol, Clark responded to a call to help block the highway around 6:30 p.m. He said an off-duty investigator tried negotiating with the man, and when Clark drove past the man sitting on the wall, he realized the man wasn’t paying attention to him. That’s when he decided to try to grab the man by his shirt.

“When he saw me, he started to lurch forward, and I started to pull back as hard as I could, and we both fell to the interstate,” said Clark.

In 13 years with the sheriff’s office, Clark said he’s never done anything like this.

“You don’t realize it at the time that you’re doing something, but once you realize, ‘OK, everything’s safe now,’ then you start to come down and realize, ‘Wow, that was scary,'” explained Clark.

He, along with many other police and deputies, are trained by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, or NAMI, on how to work with the mentally ill.

Paton Blough serves on the state board for NAMI and started his own mental health advocacy group, Rehinge.

With bipolar disorder, he said he’s been in sticky situations with law enforcement himself. Blough said he spent time in jail, when in reality he needed mental health treatment.

Now Blough trains Greenville city and county officers on how to best to interact with people who need mental health.

Blough watched the deputy’s video and thinks that law enforcement handled the situation very well. He said he was impressed that the officers didn’t stand too closely as they tried to speak with the man.

Deputies said the man on the bridge was taken by ambulance to get mental health treatment.

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