City cops prevent woman’s leap from bridge

Published 11:59 pm Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quick actions by two Vicksburg police officers kept a 32-year-old Madison woman from plunging into the Mississippi River Saturday afternoon.

Officers Russell Dorsey and LJ Peters, responding to a suicide attempt call on the westbound lanes of Interstate 20 bridge near the Louisiana state line, found the woman straddling the outer barrier threatening to jump.

Dorsey said he used what he learned at the law enforcement training academy to calm the victim by talking to her.

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“Through the whole thing, I kept her talking,” said Dorsey, who said this was his second suicide call — the first ending with a loss of life.

As the woman started to lean in the direction of the water, Dorsey reached for her to get her back on the roadway. Both started to lean toward the water and Peters jumped in to grab both.

“When I saw officer Dorsey grab her, she held onto the bridge and I quickly ran to assist him,” Peters said. “At that point, not only was her life in danger but also my fellow officer.”

The entire event unfolded in less than 10 minutes. Traffic was briefly stopped for westbound traffic on the bridge, said Sgt. Sandra Williams, assistant chief of investigations.

“I was very relieved once I snatched the lady off the bridge,” said Dorsey, 24, a 2 1/2-year veteran of the VPD. “After I saw cuts on her wrist, I knew she had attempted to take her life before. I’m glad I was able to stop her from jumping. This makes me feel like I’m helping people.”

Peters, 25, a VPD officer for the past four years, said, “I had all the confidence in myself and officer Dorsey that we would be able to save her life. I was relieved that officer Dorsey and I were able to get her off the bridge and to safety.”

The woman was taken to River Region Medical Center, but a hospital spokesman said they had no record of her at the hospital.

“Within seven minutes of a reported suicide call, officers Russell Dorsey and LJ Peters made a courageous and heroic effort intervening and saving a life of a woman who was suicidal,” Williams said.

Dorsey and Peters arrived on the scene around 5:30 p.m. and found the victim straddling the north rail of the westbound traffic of the bridge, which is more than 100 feet above the river.

Williams said the victim told police that “someone” had dropped her off at the bridge.

“We get suicide calls from the bridge often,” said Williams. No statistics were available.

The woman will not be charged, Williams said.