Three police officers were lauded by Collier commissioners last Wednesday for their roles in preventing a woman from jumping off the Interstate 79 overpass at Prestley Road in Collier.
After dispatchers received two calls from motorists shortly before 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24, Collier police Sgt. Robert Ferrence and Officer Steve Oberle found a middle-aged woman crying and smoking a cigarette as she sat on the ledge of the bridge above the northbound lanes of I-79. Her purse was on the roadway.
The officers spoke with the woman and learned that she intended to jump.
While Sgt. Ferrence tried to distract the woman by engaging in conversation, Bridgeville Officer Roger Itzel arrived with his car lights off and quietly approached the scene.
"At one point, it looked she was going to go over the edge," Sgt. Ferrence said, who quickly diverted the woman's attention by yelling for a cigarette. His action gave Officer Itzel time to approach the woman from behind and pull her away from the ledge.
After the woman was taken into custody, medics evaluated her and transported her to UPMC Mercy.
"I was pleased at the way it worked out," said Sgt. Ferrence, who praised Officer Itzel for his assessment of the situation and swift action.
A news release issued by Collier said, "The actions of Sgt. Ferrence and Officers Oberle and Itzel saved not only the life of the female, but also the lives of unsuspecting motorists passing under Prestley Road on Interstate 79.
"The tense and rapidly evolving factors of the incident required those officers to work simultaneously without hesitation to bring the suicide attempt to a safe resolution."
The three officers received medals of valor from their chiefs, Tom Devin of Collier and Chad King of Bridgeville. Robert Schuler, president of Collier commissioners, presented them with certificates.
"It was very nerve-wracking," Sgt. Ferrence said of the incident after the ceremony. "It's nice to have it turn out the way it did."
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: email@example.com.