Lo­cal men help save man on bridge

Record Observer - - News - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — Po­lice, fire and res­cue units re­sponded to res­cue a man who was cling­ing to a sup­port beam off the Wil­liam Pre­ston Lane Jr. (Ch­e­sa­peake Bay) Bridge early Thurs­day morn­ing, May 26. Due to the alert­ness of two trav­el­ers on the bridge and a quick and co­he­sive re­sponse from res­cue teams the man was able to be brought to safety.

Ja­son Hayes and Lieu­tenant Kevin Bren­ner were the first to stop when they spot­ted a man out of his car and climb­ing over the side of the Bay Bridge.

At a press con­fer­ence held Thurs­day af­ter­noon at the Queen Anne’s County De­part­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices, Hayes and Bren­ner re­layed the events of that morn­ing.

Bren­ner, a lieu­tenant who has been with Queen Anne’s County De­part­ment of EMS for 10 years, was on his way to work when he saw Hayes stopped next to a ve­hi­cle on the bridge. Hayes, a dis­abled Army veteran and Centreville res­i­dent, cur­rently re­sid­ing in Ridgely, was trav­el­ing home. Hayes trav­els sev­eral morn­ings to be a part of sup­port group for veter­ans with PTSD.

Hayes had seen the ve­hi­cle stopped on the road and thought that some­one was bro­ken down. “I’m afraid of heights,” Hayes said, “so I nearly didn’t stop.” That’s when Hayes locked eyes with a man stand­ing on the side of the bridge, at that mo­ment Hayes said he knew he needed to of­fer his as­sis­tance.

“This morn­ing I just hap­pened to be at the right place at the right time,” Hayes said.

Hayes got out of his ve­hi­cle and be­gan talk­ing to a man who was con­tem­plat­ing jump­ing off the bridge. Hayes said the man was over the rail­ing and sev­eral feet down un­der the road­way on a steel beam. “I had to lean over the side to talk to him,” Hayes said. “Never, ever did I think that at 6:30 in the morn­ing, I would be hang­ing over the side of the Bay Bridge, but I im­me­di­ately felt a sense of com­pas­sion for this man.”

Shortly af­ter Hayes stopped to as­sist, Bren­ner pulled over also. Traf­fic was still mov­ing on the bridge, and Bren­ner was able to use his ra­dio to con­firm that help was be­ing dis­patched. Hayes and Bren­ner be­gan tak­ing turns keep­ing the man en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion. They were able to speak with the man about his faith and family and pro­vide re­as­sur­ance that it was OK to get help.

Both Hayes and Bren­ner agreed that ev­ery minute felt like an hour. In re­al­ity, Bren­ner said, within an hour and a half the pa­tient was off the bridge and in the back of an EMS unit.

“We were ex­tremely for­tu­nate to have a good out­come,” he said.

The tech­ni­cal res­cue team that re­sponded to the top of the bridge was from Sta­tion 23 in Anne Arun­del County. Bren­ner said the re­spon­ders de­ferred to him­self and Hayes since they had es­tab­lished a rap­port with the man, and they con­tin­ued to keep him en­gaged while the team set up their rigs.

“We asked him to strad­dle the beam and face to­wards the bridge, in­stead of look­ing out to­wards the wa­ter,” said Hayes, “We felt like it was very im­por­tant not to lose con­tact and con­tinue the con­ver­sa­tion while the res­cue teams got in place.”

Bren­ner said he was hold­ing his breath as Cap­tain Dave Chen got the har­ness [that would lift the man to safety] in place.

“When I saw Chen shake his hand and give him a hug, calm­ing him down, I knew we were in a much bet­ter po­si­tion,” said Bren­ner. “It was touch­ing to know we were able to break down the bar­ri­ers and re­ally reach a fa­vor­able out­come.”

“It was great to be able to help some­body and have a pos­i­tive out­come,” said Bren­ner who had the rest of his 24-hour shift to com­plete af­ter he fi­nally made his way into work.

“I don’t know if I saved a life to­day,” said Hayes, “but I am proud to stand next to Lt. Bren­ner. To­day was an eye opener for me, I am feel­ing hum­bled, blessed and very lucky to have been able to be there to­day.”


Left, Ja­son Hayes and Lieu­tenant Kevin Bren­ner, are in­ter­viewed by Chris Gor­don, NBC news Chan­nel 4, Wash­ing­ton D.C., about their in­volve­ment Thurs­day, May 26, in the res­cue of a man from the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge.

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