Police, semis halt suicide attempt on I-696
A row of semitrailers stood guard beneath an overpass for about three hours Tuesday to prevent a man from jumping onto Interstate 696, prompting praise from the trucking industry and social media observers.
The unusual phalanx of side-by-side rigs at I-696 and Coolidge had been put into place by Michigan State Police on Tuesday morning after a man threatened to jump. The idea was to shorten the distance the distraught man would fall, said Lt. Mike Shaw.
A trucking industry spokesman said he was proud of the drivers.
“The photo makes us so proud and shows quick thinking,” said Sean McNally, American Trucking Association spokesman. “It also shows how our industry works with law enforcement to keep our highways safe and the quality of people we have driving.”
Police had ordered 13 semitrailer drivers, who had been detoured after the interstate closed Tuesday morning after the man was spotted on the overpass, to park beneath it on the eastbound and westbound sides of the freeway.
Fox 2 Detroit was at the scene and captured an image of the semis lined up.
The ordeal lasted from 1-4 a.m.
Sgt. Jason Brockdorff of the Huntington Woods Police Department said that lining up trucks to shorten the distance a jumper would fall has been done before.
"We try to do it every time, to lessen the distance someone would travel if they were to jump,” Brockdorff said. “Fortunately, that didn't happen."
Police identified the man only as about 30 who lives in Oakland County.
The man walked off the bridge on his own, Brockdorff said. After being taken into custody "without incident," he was taken to Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak.
McNally said there are 3.5 million professional truck drivers on U.S. roads and he believes anyone of them would have stepped up to the task if asked.
The photo went viral nationally with many commenters applauding their efforts.
“I noticed a couple of Art Van trucks. Mr. Van would have been proud of his drivers,” one post said. “Congratulations for your actions.”