Idaho County Deputy talks woman down from bridge | News
An Idaho County Sheriff's deputy made a quick decision Sunday that helped to save a distraught 30-year-old mother of four after she had jumped off of the Kamiah Bridge and onto one of the cement girders.
Jon Tibbetts, who has been with the sheriff's office for about three years, says he was dispatched to the scene just before 10:00 this morning after a passerby noticed the woman about 10 feet below the middle of the bridge on the upriver side.
"It was definitely a situation that needed to be dealt with and we tried to handle it the best way we could," Tibbetts says of the incident. He says when he arrived, he found the Kamiah woman who was visibly upset and distraught. She had been there for about a half hour.
"I attempted to speak with her briefly and then determined that based on her condition and her mental state that it would be best for me to climb over the rail of the bridge and drop down approximately 10 feet and join her on the cement girder to prevent her from falling into the river if that was going to be the option she wanted to take," Tibbetts says.
When he arrived, there wasn't really anybody on scene, Tibbetts says, adding that one male passerby helped him go over the railing with no safety gear.
"I had to kind of hang down and drop onto the girder - making sure I was lined up with the cement portion of the girder...which might be three feet wide." He had instructed the woman to sit down so that he had some room to land on the surface without causing any trauma to her, force her off, or fall into the river himself.
Tibbetts says they waited for emergency rescue for approximately 15 minutes and during that time, he talked with the woman. "I let her vent about her life and her situation, and give her the opportunity to kind of calm back down," he says. Tibbetts helped the woman refocus on what is important in life and reminded her that she had a lot of reasons to be alive, including her children.
The Kamiah Fire Department arrived and provided life jackets for them, but the woman refused to put one on until Tibbetts assured her that she would not be in trouble and gave her more than just his word.
"I said 'you're not in trouble and whatever you need me to do I'll do it.' So she said, 'I need you to make a contract with me...you can write it on my arm and tell me I'm not in trouble,'" Tibbetts says, adding that he wrote "I promise - you're not in trouble" on the woman's arm.
"After I secured a life jacket on the female and myself, the female was secured...into a harness around her waist and I assisted the fire department in lifting her 10 to 12 feet back over the rail of the bridge into safety." Firefighters then assisted Tibbetts back over the railing.
The woman was transported to Syringa General Hospital, where she was treated for minor injuries sustained in the incident and for evaluation. Tibbetts also suffered some minor scrapes and cuts to his arms while going over the railing.
"This just happened to be a situation where she needed someone to help her out and I happened to be the person that was there to do that," Tibbetts says. "I'm just happy it turned out the way it did."
Tibbetts also assisted in rescuing a 26-year-old Clarkston man last summer after he was injured near Selway Falls. The man had gotten stuck among some logs and rocks at the bottom of the falls on August 10th. A raft was lowered into the area and tied off, and Tibbetts crawled along the logs and rocks until he reached the man. At that point, Tibbetts put a life jacket on the man and got him back to the raft, where he was then pulled back to shore by other rescue personnel and bystanders.