Distraught man taken to hospital
Two heroic Hub cops are being hailed for going above and beyond the call of duty and putting their own lives at risk to save an emotionally distraught man who was threatening to jump to his death off a Mass Pike overpass Friday night.
“Neither of us thought twice about it,” officer Mike Rockwell told the Herald yesterday. “We just went and did it.”
Rockwell and his former partner, Brendan Bosse, were the first officers to respond to a report of a man climbing over a fence on Columbus Avenue in the South End about 6 p.m. Both cops immediately climbed over the fence and onto a ledge comprised of a narrow plank and exposed pipes to reach the man. The only thing separating them from the speeding turnpike traffic below was a thin steel railing, they said.
After stepping out onto the perilous platform, Rockwell and Bosse began trying to speak with the man, whose name was not released.
“He kept screaming and yelling. … He kept saying, ‘Get back, get away from me. I just want it to end,’ ” Rockwell said. “I kept telling him, ‘It’s going to be all right,’ and ‘Why don’t you come back over and we’ll get you some help?’ ”
As they desperately attempted to coax him back to safety, the man repeatedly climbed over the small railing to the highway as if he were preparing to jump before climbing back onto the ledge. At one point, Rockwell said the man was hanging off the railing with his legs dangling over the highway.
Realizing that the man was getting closer and closer to jumping, Rockwell and Bosse made their move when he stepped back over the railing, grabbing him and putting him in handcuffs to prevent him from slipping free.
“It was a gut feeling for both of us,” Bosse said, adding that he and Rockwell were able to communicate with each other and make split-second decisions despite not being able to hear each other.
In order to get the man to safety, Rockwell and Bosse led the man back onto the bridge through a hole in the fence that had been cut by Boston firefighters. He was handed over to EMTs, who transported him to a nearby hospital.