Salem officer credited with saving despondent man’s life

SALEM – A Salem police officer pulled a suicidal man from the railing of the Cranmer bridge railroad overpass on West State Street Tuesday night, as a westbound train approached below.

Chief J.T. Panezott, contacted by phone, said he had not spoken with Sgt. Brent Slider yet about the incident, but read the report and said Slider did “an awesome job” and likely saved the man’s life.

Officers responded to the overpass shortly after 8 p.m. when the dispatcher advised of multiple callers reporting a man sitting on the railing. Slider said police arrived at the crest of the bridge and saw the man sitting on the south side railing with his legs hanging over the side.

According to the report, Slider initiated verbal contact with the 34-year-old man who was emotional as evidenced by his body language and statements, which were indicative that he intended to jump. He started scooting away and told the officer to leave him alone, that he was waiting for a train.

Slider noted in the report that he saw a westbound train approaching from the area of the New Garden Avenue crossing and continued talking with the man and told him he needed to move to his right side to better communicate with him.

After getting behind the man, he grabbed him around the waist and pulled him backward off the railing. A second officer arrived on the scene and both of them pulled the man to the ground and secured him in handcuffs. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment and evaluation.