Heroic police rescue: ‘Don’t fall! There’s a huge alligator below you’

Caught on Camera

POSTED: Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 3:51pm

UPDATED: Friday, February 8, 2013 - 1:59pm

An officer jumped off a bridge with the intent to land on a piling 10 feet below during a rescue mission to save a man who was threatening to end his life. Had the officer missed his target, he would have fallen into the murky, alligator infested water below.

“Don’t fall! There’s a huge alligator below you,” is what rescue workers yelled to the man they were attempting to save.

911 received a call on Monday, Feb. 4 at roughly 2:25 a.m. from a caller who said a man was standing on a piling on the Jackson Street Bridge in Thibodaux. Not knowing the exact location, officers responded to the scene and began searching the area.

“When they were searching the area, they heard a man yelling,” David Melancon, Thibodaux Police Department, explained. “When officers tried speaking with the man, he insisted he would die before letting officers touch him.”

Officers don’t know how he ended up on the piling, but they did notice he was in a dangerous position.

“Officers believed he was either intoxicated or under the influence of a narcotic,” Melancon noted. “The man eventually fell asleep; awaking moments later dazed and confused, nearly falling into the water below.”

At this point a veteran lieutenant decided to take a leap of faith to try and save him.

“He jumped over the railing, onto the piling, which was about 10 feet below,” Melacon said. “He grabbed the man by the back of his sweatshirt and pants.”

The man began to fight with the officer who had just risked his life. However, the officer managed to subdue and hold him down for over a half and hour until a rescue basket could be set up and dropped down.

“When a person is not in their right mind, if they’re threatening to do harm to themselves, it’s a police officer’s responsibility to stop that person from being a danger to themselves,” Melacon said. “I think what the officer did was heroic. We’re proud of his actions and what he did represents what this agency stands for.”

Both the officer and the man were eventually lifted to safety. The man was transported to the Thibodaux Regional Medical Center for treatment. An update on his condition was not available, however, he was physically uninjured during the rescue effort.

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