BANGOR, Maine — A distraught Brewer man who had decided to end his life on Friday was tying a rope to a guardrail on the Veterans Remembrance Bridge when an officer came upon him, according to Bangor police.
Officer Jeremy Brock “tried to talk with the man and as he walked closer the man tied the rope more quickly,” Lt. Paul Edwards said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Officer Brock had one opportunity to reach for the man and was able to grab hold and pull him to the ground safely.”
The 57-year-old man was taken to a local hospital emergency room for an evaluation. Brock, an Easton native who joined the Bangor force in December, said he was very focused on the man and saving his life.
“I kind of had tunnel vision,” the officer said. ”Once he was secured and everything, I noticed a lot more people around me.”
When he looked around he saw other officers from Bangor, Brewer and the Maine State Police also had come to the scene.
Employees from the Circle K gas station and convenience store on Main Street notified police around 6 p.m. about the suicidal man, Edwards said. The Brewer man reportedly dropped off his identification at the store and stated he was going to hang himself from the bridge, which carries Interstate 395 over the Penobscot River between Bangor and Brewer.
After being alerted, Officer Joe Baillargeon searched under the bridge, and Lt. Steve Hunt and Brock drove back and forth on the bridge between Bangor and Brewer looking for the man.
Baillargeon noticed him on the edge of the westbound lane and Brock found him with the rope in his hands.
“I got out [of the police cruiser] and saw him. He had chucked a bottle of alcohol over the bridge, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Brock said. “He was tying the rope [to the guardrail] and saw me and got nervous and started tying it a little faster.
“When I felt like I was close enough to be able to control him somewhat, I pulled him away,” the officer said. “He was still tying the rope [and] as I was pulling him to the ground he still had a good grip on it.”
Brock would not say specifically why the man was upset but did say, “He had a lot going on.”
The incident is just another reminder of the number of “people in crisis and suffering mental illness that we do deal with on a daily basis,” Edwards said.
Brock, a former high school and college athlete, also is credited with reviving a Dedham man who apparently overdosed on heroin last month by Mansfield Stadium.
Another new officer, Officer Derek Laflin, who also was hired in December after two years with the Scarborough Police Department, pulled a despondent man from the outer railing on the bridge over Valley Avenue in May, Edwards said.
“These newer guys we’re hiring seem to be more mature and more sensitive [to crisis situations],” he said.
Edwards said Brock’s actions say a lot about his training.
“He kind of handled it like a veteran, you know,” the lieutenant said.
Hunt, a department supervisor, also said he is impressed with the new hires, including Brock.
“We are truly blessed to have some very fine young officers and he is certainly one of them,” Hunt said.