Trooper Jamison Goetz helps save a woman acting in a suicidal manner

by: PHOTO COURTESY OREGON STATE POLICE - (Left) Trooper Jamison Goetz receives the Harold Berg Lifesaving Award from OSP Captain Andy Heider in a July 24 ceremony. An Oregon State Police trooper was presented Thursday with an agency award for helping save the life of a woman who threatened to jump from the Interstate 5 Boone Bridge south of Wilsonville while high on methamphetamine.

Trooper Jamison Goetz of the Portland Area Command office received the state police “Harold R. Berg Lifesaving Award” for his role in that incident last February. Goetz was recognized for his actions in a July 24 ceremony in Portland. According to the agency, the award is given to OSP employees who “distinguish themselves by performing or reacting to a situation in a positive and professional manner which saves, or reduces the risk of loss of life of another person; and, where a strong possibility existed that if such action wasn’t taken, loss of life or serious injury would have resulted.”

“It is apparent that Trooper Goetz placed himself in harm’s way to make sure somebody he didn’t know who needed medical and psychological help, was stopped before she could jump to almost certain death from the bridge,” OSP Superintendent Richard Evans said.

The incident happened Feb. 16 when Trooper Goetz responded to a call of a woman dancing in and out of traffic on the southbound side of Interstate 5 at Boone Bridge near Wilsonville. Upon his arrival, he found the woman sitting on a guardrail with her feet dangling off the side of the bridge. From the roadway it is approximately 75 feet to the Willamette River below; falling that distance could well be fatal.

Goetz believed that approaching the erratic woman might well cause her to act out in a dangerous manner. So the 38-year-old officer stayed in his marked patrol car and spoke with her through the public address system built into the vehicle.

Goetz asked the woman repeatedly to back away from the guardrail, to no avail. At the same time, he was also helping coordinate additional police and emergency responders at the scene. Southbound interstate traffic was stopped while the situation played out, but this helped other vehicles or persons from approaching the woman.

Eventually, she did get off the guardrail, but then started to sprint across the southbound lanes of traffic toward the northbound lanes, where vehicles had not been stopped and were still moving.

At that point, believing she may try to throw herself into traffic, Goetz sprinted after the woman, jumped the concrete barrier in the middle of the interstate and tackled her after she crossed several lanes of traffic and got near the fog line and guardrail on the east side of the roadway.

With the help of two other state troopers, the woman was then taken into custody. Police said it was later determined the woman was high on methamphetamine and in an “excited” state of mind. She reportedly told officers she was trying to “fly”

Goetz received minor scrapes and bruises in the incident, but was otherwise unharmed.

The Harold R. Berg Lifesaving Award is named after Lieutenant Harold R. Berg who died May 10, 1975, while off duty at a family outing near Tillamook. On that day, Berg was contacted by a citizen who told him a boy scout was missing at Cape Lookout State Park. While attempting to search a cave near the water’s edge, he was washed out to sea.

By Josh Kulla
Assistant Editor / Photographer
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