Amazing video: Hero officers save suicidal man

AS two police officers grasped a disturbed man dangling above an 80 foot drop, his life was literally in their hands.

AS two police officers grasped a disturbed man dangling above an 80 foot drop, his life was literally in their hands.

Today, Sergeant Ali Livingstone told how he and fellow officer, PC Ali Maidment, risked their own lives to save him as they clung on in an incredible rooftop rescue.

For around 15 minutes the man's life hung by the slimmest of threads as he struggled above the Ipswich skyline before finally being hauled to safety.

The life-or-death drama occurred on the parapet of Willis' car park near Franciscan Way.

Sgt Livingstone, who estimates the man weighed between 13 and 14 stone, said: “We got a phone call from a member of the public stating there was someone on top of the multi-storey car park. I managed to locate him from the ground and went up to try to speak to him.

“I got on the roof and the man was on the wrong side of the railings. My difficulty was I was about 50-60 metres away from him. Every time I moved forward to speak to him he would wave me away and it was clearly distressing for him that I was trying to talk to him.”

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Other officers arrived on the ground to support Sgt Livingstone, with Pc Maidment going up to the roof to help.

Sgt Livingstone said: “I was joined by Ali who stayed out of sight. We were then stuck in a stalemate. We didn't want to go forward in case that prompted the man to do something.

“That probably lasted for about 15 minutes or so, with us observing him.

“It was clear he was becoming distressed as time was going on. Towards the end he was holding on (to a rail) with his right hand, but leaning further over the edge.

“Then he disappeared on the wrong side of the barrier. I could see his right hand on the railing.”

Sgt Livingstone, 26, radioed his control room to tell them what had happened and rushed over to the barrier.

He said: “I ran towards him and took hold of his left wrist under the safety barrier. Ali ran along the roof and grabbed his right arm. As soon as we grabbed hold of the man he let go of the barrier. He started resisting quite strongly and tried to pull away from us.

“Both of us were holding on with all our might.”

Sgt Livingstone shouted down to the ground for help from his colleagues while he and Pc Maidment hung on to the man.

Sgt Livingstone said: “That literally lasted for three or four minutes. The man was trying to tense his arms up and he was shouting for us to let go of him.

“I said to Ali 'we have just got to hold on as long as we can. We have got to try our absolute hardest'. We had to try everything we could because if he had fallen how would we have lived with ourselves?

“Ali lost his grip of him after about a minute and a half and the man was hanging on by his left arm which I was holding under the rail. Until I watched the video I didn't realise Ali had lost his grip on him.”

Pc Maidment, also 26, managed to operate Sgt Livingstone's radio so he could call for help.

He said: “I told people to get there as he was going to fall. When I got the open 'mic' that Ali pressed on my radio I was getting to the desperate stage where I couldn't hold on indefinitely.

“One of my officers on the ground said that was probably the most blood-chilling ten seconds of radio he had ever heard.

“I was hanging on to the man's left wrist. He was still struggling telling me to let go. He was flexing his hand to try to let go.”

Fellow officers, one of whom ran up nine flights of stairs, eventually managed to get up to the roof and amid the confusion helped drag the man to safety.

Sgt Livingstone said: “As he was coming over the barrier he was looking at us at eye level. He was still pulling away from us. He came over the top and was restrained on the floor and detained.

“It was probably the most emotional thing I have ever seen. There was people crying, people trying to be sick - it was just complete relief. The situation had come about so suddenly and was so extraordinary.”

Sgt Livingstone was keen to stress saving the man's life was not just down to him and Pc Maidment.

He said: “There were a lot of people involved that day. It was a real team effort”

The other police officers involved were Pcs Jonathan Firman, Cliff Baldock, Lauren Brady, Michelle Webber and Matt Jay.

Superintendent Alan Caton, who is based at Ipswich police station, today praised the heroic actions of Sgt Livingstone and Pc Maidment.

Supt Caton said: “I am immensely proud of what these offices achieved that day. There is no doubt their actions saved the life of an individual who was intent on trying to end his life.

“These officers quite clearly put their own lives at risk. The community should know (through their actions) that they can depend on the police service.”