VERO BEACH — Officer Richard Chimenti was just four feet away from a man who jumped off a bridge last Friday .
Chimenti said the man told him “don’t come any closer or I’ll jump.” Chimenti grabbed the man after he jumped. He and officer Kyle Eder pulled the man back to safety.
The split-second decision saved the man from falling 65 feet to the water below, police spokeswoman Anna Carden said. Chimenti has crisis intervention and hostage negotiation training, he said.
The middle-aged man’s identity was not released for privacy reasons.
It all began at 1:48 p.m. June 23 when a woman driving over the bridge called police and said a man was staggering by the railing. Then, the man called police and told them he was going to jump, Eder said.
Chimenti said he arrived at the scene within a few minutes and saw the man sitting on a railing at the top of the south side of the bridge. A minute later, Eder drove up to the scene.
Chimenti was trying to talk to the man, but he said it was difficult to hear because of the wind and traffic.
“I wanted to find out who he was and what was going on,” Chimenti said.
The man made eye contact with Chimenti and said “don’t come any closer or I’ll jump,” Chimenti said. As Eder approached the man and Chimenti, the man jumped and Chimenti reached out and grabbed him by the belt.
“I just wanted to hold on and make sure I didn’t let go,” Chimenti said.
VBPD OFFICERS SAVE A MAN ATTEMPTING TO JUMP OFF THE 17TH STREET BRIDGEOn June 23rd, at approximately 1:48pm, VBPD Dispatch received a call about a male possibly attempting to jump off the 17th Street (Alma Lee Loy) Bridge. Two officers responded to the bridge and made contact with a male sitting on the railing on the south side of the bridge, facing the water. Ofc. Richard Chimenti was attempting to establish a dialogue with the male, as Ofc. Kyle Eder arrived on scene. At that time, the male leaped forward from the railing in at attempt to jump off the bridge. Ofc. Chimenti reacted swiftly by grabbing the subject's arm as he dangled off the bridge. Ofc. Eder climbed up on the railing and grabbed the male, and together the two officers were able to pull him back over the railing and onto solid ground. The subject was evaluated on scene by EMS and transported to the hospital by our officers for a Baker Act. While the quality of the dash cam video is not the greatest, it shows how quick actions of our officers saved a man's life. Outstanding job, Ofc. Richard Chimenti and Ofc. Kyle Eder! You are our every day heroes!!
Posted by Vero Beach Police Department on Friday, June 23, 2017
Eder said he then climbed on the railing and grabbed the man underneath his arms. Both officers pulled the man back over the railing and onto the ground.
“He didn’t make any comment afterwards. He was pretty quiet,” Eder said. “We felt relieved. It could’ve turned out a lot worse.”
Afterwards, Chimenti said he watched the dashboard camera footage of the incident and was surprised to see how he and Eder maneuvered to bring the man back over the railing.
Eder said he called the woman who initially made the 911 call and thanked her for calling the police.
Eder has worked for the Vero Beach Police Department since 2015 and was trained by Chimenti, Chimenti said. Chimenti said he has worked for the police department for about 12 years.
The police department usually sends out several officers to emergency calls and the regular response time is three minutes, Carden said.