Brave cop's bridge rescue

A TRAFFIC cop who saved the life of a man dangling off the edge of the Orwell Bridge today told of his split-second decision to risk everything to pull him to safety.

A TRAFFIC cop who saved the life of a man dangling off the edge of the Orwell Bridge today told of his split-second decision to risk everything to pull him to safety.

Pc Danny Ormes defied fears that he might make the man fall, or that he would be dragged over the edge too, to haul the man back from the brink as hundreds of shocked motorists looked on.

The drama unfolded on Tuesday afternoon when a 44-year-old father was at the centre of a tense half-hour stand-off as he threatened to throw himself off the bridge to an almost certain death.

Mr Ormes and his colleague Pc Steve Griggs, both from the roads policing unit at Suffolk police's Martlesham headquarters, were the first officers on the scene at about 4.20pm.

After the pair blocked off the Ipswich-bound carriageway and a lane of the Felixstowe-bound carriageway, Mr Ormes approached the man in the hope of convincing him to step back from the edge.

As he approached, the man tossed his mobile phone toward the policeman and said he planned to jump.

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Mr Ormes said: “I tried to engage him in conversation and he immediately said 'don't come any closer'.

“I was about 15 to 20 feet from him. Then he hopped on to the parapet and said if I went any closer he would jump.”

After the man climbed on to the parapet he sat with his legs dangling over the edge 40metres above the river Orwell but, despite his constant threats to jump, Mr Ormes kept him talking as specialist negotiators were called in.

Mr Ormes, 34, said: “It was up to me to keep him speaking and tell him what he was thinking of doing was not the thing to do.”

As traffic backed up for five miles, Mr Ormes, who has been a policeman for 11 years, convinced the man to use his phone to call a family member.

“I said I would have to bring the phone over to him. He said I should do it very slowly and not make any sudden moves.

“I said 'I'm not going to grab you, at the end of the day I'm just here to talk to you and sort things out'. I had to gain his trust.

“He dialled the number and at that point I was a couple of feet away from him. He looked out to sea and away from me. At that point I just grabbed him and brought him down to the floor.

“I was thinking to myself 'what if I get this wrong?'. I didn't want him to fall and I didn't want him to take me with him.

“If he hadn't thrown the phone at me when I got there I'm not sure I could have got that close to him. It was a bit of a godsend.”

Once the policemen restrained the man he was taken to St Clement's Hospital in Ipswich.

Mr Ormes said: “He was angry at me because I'd lied to him and told him I wasn't going to attempt to grab him. I told him I was sorry but I had to lie to him because I wasn't going to let him jump off that bridge.”

LIFESAVING policeman Danny Ormes today thanked motorists who were on the Orwell bridge during the amazing rescue for patiently waiting for the drama to be over.

Pc Ormes said often motorists can become frustrated when roads are blocked in similar circumstances but he said the good behaviour of the drivers on the A14 on Tuesday helped ensure the man at the centre of the rescue survived.

He said: “Quite often when the roads are closed you get people who are angry or frustrated but there weren't any like that and everyone was supportive of what was going on.”