ANNAPOLIS, Md. - It was a daring and emotional rescue caught on camera. A man in distress threatened to jump from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during the Memorial Day weekend rush and the incident brought traffic to a screeching halt on the bridge.
For the first time, some of the brave first responders who were able to talk the man out of jumping while pulling him to safety spoke with FOX 5.
Dealing with people in stressful situations is something firefighters encounter every day. But up until this rescue, they were used to using hoses and not hugs to save lives.
“Every second counts, especially when somebody is that close to the edge,” said Anne Arundel County Fire Capt. David Chen.
He was the firefighter dangling on the center span of the Bay Bridge with the distressed man thinking of committing suicide.
“There is nothing between you and a 200-foot drop to the water,” he described.
It was an early Thursday morning just before Memorial Day weekend when Capt. Chen and his crew responded to the scary scene hundreds of feet in the air above the bridge. They immediately jumped into action using a rope system to lower Chen underneath the bridge to where the man was.
Chen described him as agitated.
“I shook his hand, I introduced myself and then I gave him a hug,” he said.
SkyFox captured that hug as that tender show of emotion transformed what could have been a tragedy into triumph. Chen said it was just instinct.
“I tried to do my best in terms of keeping his mind off of the situation and trying to focus on what we were doing,” he explained. “Just to breathe and look at me and let’s get through this together.”
It took several minutes, but the man finally put on the harness and was hoisted to safety.
It was a valiant team effort with the right training and a fire captain willing to go the extra step to save a life.
Capt. Chen was also recognized as a Birdland community hero at an Orioles game last week for his efforts and bravery during that rescue.