Interstate 5 was shut down in both directions for nearly two hours Friday afternoon as a man threatened to jump off an overpass south of Bellingham, but, according to a release Monday from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, the incident could have taken much longer to resolve.
A 27-year-old man climbed on the rail of the Lake Samish Drive overpass and poised himself to jump, leaning over the rail with both legs and holding on with his hands, according to the release. Deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers shut down the freeway in both directions and later asked three semi truck drivers to park under the overpass to reduce the distance the man would fall if he jumped or fell.
Sheriff's crisis negotiators attempted to talk the man back onto the overpass, the release said, but he was "non-responsive to deputies and appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance." After about an hour and a half of failed negotiations, deputies "took advantage of an opportunity to take the man by surprise and pull him off the rail."
The man was taken to Saint Joseph's Hospital for psychiatric evaluation and hold, according to the release.
According to the release, he had made a similar attempt about a year earlier on an Interstate 5 overpass in Skagit County.