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Suicidal man causes major traffic delays in Riverdale

By Andrew Adams | Posted - Jul. 7, 2011 at 11:56 a.m.


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RIVERDALE — A man threatening to jump from an overpass onto I-15 caused massive traffic delays in Riverdale Thursday morning. He also threatened to attack police officers who were trying to talk him down.

It all began around 8:30 a.m. on the north edge of the Riverdale overpass and lasted roughly three hours. The man told officers, "I don't want to talk, and if you come closer I'm either going to jump or I'm going to attack you."

Police officers spotted the man sitting on the overpass as they drove by. They were worried about him and went to check on him.

After the 41-year-old man made that threat, the officers knew they had to be careful. Talking somebody down in a situation like this one is never easy.

"You need to spend some time figuring out who they are and what the issues are, and addressing the specific problems that they have, and helping them to understand that it's a temporary problem that they will overcome if they take the time to get off whatever issue they're stuck on at that point," said Riverdale Police Lt. James Ebert.

Ultimately, negotiators brought family into the mix. They got his wife and an uncle to talk him out of it. Police say it was the best way to resolve the situation.

"There's other things that we could have attempted to do," Ebert said. "But at this point, negotiating with him, and trying to understand what the issues were and help him through them was the primary direction we took."

Several roadways in the area were closed while police dealt with the situation. Northbound I-15 was the worst. It was backed up from Riverdale to Antelope Drive in Layton. Some drivers say it took them as long as 45 minutes to get through the delays.

Southbound I-15 also was problematic. At one point, cars stretched to 31st Street in Ogden. I-84 saw some residual problems as well.

Police say the man will not be charged, but he will be referred to someone who can talk to him about the issues behind Thursday's incident.

Email: aadams@ksl.com

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