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Standoff with disturbed person shuts down Ross Island Bridge

by: David F. Ashton A Multnomah County Sheriff's Office river patrol craft stands by under the Ross Island Bridge, as negotiators successfully reason with the despondent man on the bridge deck above.

For miles in both directions, traffic backed up on either side of the Ross Island Bridge on Thursday afternoon, May 5th, as police and fire bureaus responded to an individual in distress.

Just before 2 pm, police raced to the bridge to check out the report of a man standing on the rail, threatening to jump into the Willamette River.

'Officers arrived on the bridge and began talking with the man,' recounted Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King. 'Crisis negotiators were also on scene.'

In case of the need for a water rescue, Portland Fire and Rescue's new boat, the 'Eldon Trinity', raced towards the bridge from Station 21 at the foot of S.E. Hawthorne Boulevard, as did a Multnomah County Sheriff's Office river patrol craft.

Some drivers' tempers grew short, as afternoon rush hour traffic added to the traffic jam. But, the negotiators on the bridge remained calm.

'The man who was threatening to jump has been taken into custody by police, and taken to an area hospital,' King reported at 4:07 pm.

The rain-threatening clouds cleared, and, very slowly at first, the crush of traffic again began flowing across the Ross Island Bridge.