It was a crazy day on the Tobin Bridge today, when a distraught man climbed to the upper deck and threatened to jump, a woman waiting in the stalled traffic thought she was going into labor, and two men trying to escape the long wait and hot temperatures got out of their cars and had a heated confrontation.
The chaos started at around 4:15 p.m. when a 40-year-old Peabody man parked his car in the line of traffic, Chelsea police Captain Keith Houghton said.
Emergency medical technicians, believing he was a troubled driver, stopped to help, but that only alarmed the man -- who was undergoing psychiatric troubles and had been on the phone with his psychiatrist -- to panic and climb over the railing of the upper deck, threatening to jump into the Mystic River, Houghton said. Police were forced to close the southbound lane of Route 1 for about 45 minutes.
Chelsea police, State Police, the Boston Police Harbor Unit, the Boston Fire Department dive team, and the US Coast Guard all arrived on scene, according to Houghton. Chelsea police officer Anthony Ortiz, a trained negotiator, “pleaded” with the man not to jump, the Chelsea police captain said.
“He was barely hanging on,” Houghton said. “The bridge was vibrating; it was windy. What I heard from the officer in charge was that it was remarkable that he didn’t fall.”
Ortiz managed to get the man off the bridge rails after he asked to speak to his psychiatrist again. Reaching for a phone, another officer pulled the man onto the deck, Houghton said. The man, who the Globe is not identifying, was later transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.
While that was going on, a woman nine months pregnant and stuck in the traffic, which was backed up for about five miles, flagged down an officer and stated that her contractions were about eight to 10 minutes apart, according to Houghton.
“She told the officer, ‘I believe I’m going into labor,’ ” he said. The officer escorted her to an ambulance that also happened to be in the traffic and it managed to work its way free and get the woman to a Boston hospital.
Houghton said he did not know details on the woman's condition or baby.
The traffic on the bridge became so dire that people were trying to back down a ramp, sparking a heated confrontation between two drivers in front of Chelsea High School. Houghton said no arrests were made.
“It was a frantic 45 minutes,” he said.
On the beat
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