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Armed girl threatens to kill herself under Nooksack River bridge

An armed 14-year-old girl threatening to kill herself was rescued in a daring rope operation early Wednesday below the Nooksack River bridge at Hannegan Road, authorities said.

“She was armed with a firearm, hanging from the bridge,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Wednesday.

Firefighters from Lynden and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue joined Washington State Patrol and sheriff’s officials, including the sheriff’s crisis negotiation team, Elfo said. Fire department units were summoned as a precaution and to help with a rescue attempt, said North Whatcom Chief William Pernett.

“It was a challenging call, but it had a successful outcome,” Pernett said.

Authorities did not name the girl, citing medical privacy laws and her age. She was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital for medical and psychiatric evaluation, Elfo said.

No injuries were reported. Elfo said he didn’t know what kind of firearm the girl had.

Hannegan Road was closed at the bridge during the incident, which lasted from about 1 a.m. to about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

As the girl clung onto bridge supports in darkness above the cold, fast-moving water, authorities requested a rescue boat and summoned the sheriff’s mountain rescue team – whose members are certified in rope rescue, Pernett said. Those resources often take time to respond, so firefighters rigged a less technical rope system.

“We set up a simple descent system and a law-enforcement officer went over the side,” Pernett said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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