Three police officers from Collier Township and Bridgeville are being hailed as heroes for stopping a woman from leaping to her death off an Interstate 79 overpass and possibly injuring unsuspecting motorists below.
Sgt. Robert Ferrence and Officer Steve Oberle of Collier, and Officer Roger Itzel of Bridgeville were awarded a commendation by Collier Township officials Wednesday night for their efforts to save the woman and prevent others from being hurt.
Collier police Chief Thomas Devin said the officers received a call on Oct. 24 of a woman sitting on the I-79 overpass along Prestley Road with her feet dangling over the edge. Oberle and Itzel blocked the road while Ferrence tried talking to the unidentified woman “to keep her busy” as she contemplated jumping onto the busy highway.
The officers immediately contacted Pennsylvania State Police to have the northbound lanes shut down, but the woman appeared to be ready to end her life before the highway could be closed. Devin said the woman then put out her cigarette, picked up her purse and said she was ready to jump.
Ferrence instinctively yelled at the woman to get her attention before Itzel came from the other side and pulled her from the edge of the overpass. The woman was taken to UPMC Mercy to be evaluated.
Devin estimates the incident lasted about 20 minutes. He and Bridgeville police Chief Chad King praised their officers for working together and thinking quickly.
“They don’t see what the big deal is. They were just doing their jobs,” Devin said of the recognition. “But if she would’ve jumped at that time, it would’ve caused her death and probably injury to a driver below. It worked out well.”