A Pasadena police officer was first to arrive on scene as a woman threatened to jump from Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge. What Brian Petrella did in those first few moments may have saved her life.
Petrella heard a radio call that there was a person on the bridge. The 13-year veteran assumed, as often is the case, that this was just someone trying to take a photo.
"My mind set was, I’m just going to tell this person, ‘Hey, you gotta come back down.'"
He arrived on scene of the iconic bridge.
"Before I know it, she's on the outside of the bridge, telling me, 'I’ve been here before and this time I’m going to do it.'"
The Pasadena Police Department now knew that this was not someone trying to photograph the bridge – it was a person threatening to take their own life. But, Petrella’s role could be the turning point.
"We know how critical that is to have somebody respond and within a matter of seconds connect with that individual and create that dialogue … create a relationship," said Lt. Jesse Carrillo of the Pasadena Police Department.
Petrella started talking with the woman, "trying to build rapport with her."
There were times the woman let go of the railing and was just on the ledge without holding on.
Thirteen hours ticked by. Crisis negotiators took over while the Pasadena Fire Department was on standby with a giant air bag just in case. The next morning, there was a breaking point.
Petrella came into work and heard over some of the radio broadcasts that the woman had come back over onto the other side of the bridge.
It was a huge relief for him, but the stress of three hours on the bridge with the woman still takes its toll.
"You don’t know it until after you have been relieved and you step away from it is when it really hits you, the emotional exhaustion …," he said.
Now that he knows the woman is getting help "it’s not as hard."
"I can only imagine if things didn’t go as well, what it would be like."
Anyone in crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting "Home" to 741741.