At 6:52 p.m. Jan. 2, Hood River County Sheriff’s Deputy Caitlin Please was on regular patrol in Cascade Locks when she received a dispatch call that a man was believed to be preparing to jump from the Bridge of the Gods, which spans the Columbia at the west end of the city.
What transpired for Please and fellow deputies was a tense scene that resulted in physically restraining a Cascade Locks man in his 40s who said he wanted to jump as he stood on the rail, with the Cascade Locks shore some 100 feet below.
The bridge was closed to vehicle traffic for about 20 minutes during the incident. Backing up Please was Skamania County deputy Chris Helton. Hood River County Deputy Chris Guertin arrived from Hood River to transport the man to Mid-Columbia Center For Living for treatment.
When Please arrived at the bridge in her vehicle, the man was walking north on the bridge, and she pulled farther north to head him off before he was over the river.
“He kept saying ‘I want to go into the water’,” Please recalls.
The man then reached the rail and straddled it, while Please, standing about six feet away, asked him to talk to her.
“He was not wanting me to get closer,” she said. Helton joined her a few minutes later. After about 10 minutes they were able to grab the man and pull him onto the bridge deck and help him into Guertin’s car. “We were able to get close enough and one of us got hold of his arms and we tried to get him off the rail,” said Please, who said she does not remember much besides holding the man by his arm. “He was not wanting to let go of the rail, We just wanted to make sure he stayed safe, and we stayed safe.
“If he jumped, most likely it would have been a fatality,” said Please.
“I’m just so glad everyone is safe and he’s gotten the help he needs. It was a good outcome,” Please said. “I hope people who might be considering something like this know there are plenty of places available and numbers to call and talk. Any law enforcement officer, you can call and we are happy just to talk."
She said she has dealt with reports of people wanting to jump and interceding to prevent it, but this was the first time she was involved in physically restraining someone on the bridge rail. (Please said she had previously spoken with Deputy Helton via phone but they had never met before the incident.)