Off-duty Tombstone deputy talks jumper off I-10 bridge

Sgt. Travis Mattern

MESCAL — A St. David man who threatened to jump off the Mescal/J-Six bridge over Interstate 10 on Sunday was talked down by an off-duty sergeant from the Tombstone Marshal’s Office.

Sgt. Travis Mattern was on I-10 heading toward his home in Pima County around 4:30 p.m. when a call reporting a suicidal man flashed on his computer dispatch screen. He advised other responding agencies that he was in the area.

“Sgt. Mattern had the forethought to place his patrol vehicle across both eastbound lanes of I-10 to block traffic, knowing that the subject was threatening to jump from the bridge over those lanes,” Marshal Bob Randall said. “He then ran up the exit ramp to make contact with the subject.”

Although some citizens were on the bridge trying to get the 23-year-old man off the ledge, it wasn’t until Mattern arrived that the danger level lessened.

“Sgt. Mattern began speaking with the subject, and immediately gained his trust, which was evident as the subject reached out with his arm,” Randall said. “The sergeant took control of the man, removed him from the ledge, and comforted him.”

Due to the man’s emotional state, the ambulance staff had Mattern ride with them to Banner UMC-South in Tucson. No further information has been released about the man, who was apparently upset after an argument with his girlfriend.

“Sgt. Mattern was instrumental in saving the life of a young man in the midst of a bad decision,” Randall said, who noted his sergeant had used comp-time Sunday to get off duty early to be with family. “The professionalism he displayed during the rescue of the suicidal person undoubtedly contributed to the successful end.”

All eastbound traffic was routed onto the exit ramp and back down in order to avoid passing under the bridge. Normal operations resumed after about 30 minutes.

Mattern’s patrol vehicle was later driven to the hospital by a state trooper. The sergeant has been a peace officer since May 2015, and previously served in the military.

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