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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blair Koch/Times-News
Officers from the Twin Falls Police Department and from the Twin Falls andJerome county sheriff's offices rescued a man Saturday who was thought to be suicidal on the Perrine Bridge.

Jumper pulled off Perrine Bridge ledge
By Blair Koch
Times-News correspondent
TWIN FALLS - An unidentified man sat Saturday on the railing at the north end of the Perrine Bridge, facing east and inhaling what he perhaps thought was his last smoke.

His lack of a BASE jumper's parachute heightened the suspicion of a passing motorist who called authorities shortly before 2 p.m., resulting in a multi-county effort to save the man.

"We had both the Jerome and Twin Falls county sheriff's offices as well as the Twin Falls Police Department on the scene," said police Staff Sgt. Dan McAtee.

Traffic heading north over the bridge was delayed for about 15 minutes during the rescue.

As the drama unfolded many holiday shoppers from Canyon Park lined Centennial Trail.

"Seven or eight officers between the departments were out there on the bridge with him. We have professionally trained and skilled negotiators," McAtee said. "They tried to talk to him but in the end they swarmed him and pulled him back over the rail."

Witnesses said the man -described as being white and in his 30s or 40s - let go of the railing with one arm and leaned forward when the officers bolted into action.

"At first the man was facing the roadway and then he turned around and it looked liked he let go of the rail and started to lean forward," said Max Bailey of Hailey. "The officers did an outstanding job."

The scene erupted into a relief-filled cheer from those watching.

After being safely wrestled to the ground, the unidentified man was taken to St. Luke's Magic Valley RegionalMedical Center.

Times-News correspondent Blair Koch can be reached by e-mail at blairkoch@gmail.com or by calling 316-2607.

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