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March 13, 2013

Editorial: Tragedy averted on a Lawrence bridge

Kudos to police and firefighters from two communities who helped rescue a distraught man from Lawrence’s Duck Bridge. Confronted with a potential tragedy, they were able to resolve the situation to a happy conclusion.

Police Sgt. Robert Michaud was directing traffic on So. Union Street when pedestrians told him there was a man sitting on the metal girders of the bridge. As Michaud approached, he first thought the man was a bridge worker. When the man failed to respond to Michaud’s calls, then began pacing along the girders, the police officer called for backup.

The man was walking along narrow beams 18 feet above the roadway and 70 feet above the frigid Merrimack River. One false step would have resulted in disaster.

Lawrence police, firefighters and ambulance personnel responded. Firefighters from Lawrence and North Andover brought rescue boats to the scene.

Firefighters placed ladders on either side of the man, giving him options to return to the road level. Fire Capt. Robert Wilson and Firefighter Manuel Gutierrez spoke with the man, trying to calm him and encourage him to get off the bridge. Eventually, through patience and talking to the man, firefighters were able to get him down.

The man, 34, recently came to Lawrence from Puerto Rico and was staying with his mother. He was taken to Holy Family Hospital for observation.

“He got here three weeks ago,” police Chief John Romero told reporter Bill Kirk. “His sister said he’s been dealing with some issues.”

All the public safety personnel who responded did great work in saving this man’s life. What could have been a terrible tragedy ended happily with the man safely on the ground.

Well done to all involved.

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