Two Connecticut State Police troopers are being hailed as heroes for their swift and courageous rescue of a distressed woman who had climbed over the metal safety fencing on Baldwin Bridge and threatened to take her own life.
According to the CSP, multiple 9-1-1 calls on November 27 alerted Sergeants Matthew Belz and Ashley Harkins to the situation, where a distressed woman was found seated on a narrow five-inch ledge of the bridge, situated approximately 100 feet above the Connecticut River between the towns of Old Saybrook and Old Lyme.
Body-camera footage released by the Connecticut State Police captured the intense moments of the rescue.
Sergeant. Belz, a veteran officer with Connecticut State Police since 2012, arrived at the scene first and initiated a calm and empathetic conversation with the woman in an effort to establish rapport.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Harkins took decisive action by climbing over the safety fence, putting herself in harm’s way on the ledge to reach the distressed individual.
The body-camera video shows Sergeant Harkins securing the woman by placing her arms around her and anchoring both of them to the safety fence.
Despite the perilous position on the narrow ledge, Harkins remained composed.
“I honestly didn’t think about being scared. I just thought about what do we need to do and how can we accomplish it and let’s do it,” Harkins stated.
Sergeant Belz continued to communicate with the woman, aiming to establish a connection and offer support.
“Wherever you were on the other side of that, that’s something you can work on,” Belz said.
The troopers worked collaboratively to guide the distressed woman into moving her hands to the fencing and eventually climbing onto Harkins’ legs.
Other troopers on the sidewalk were then able to safely pull her back over the fence. An ambulance was waiting to provide immediate medical assistance, and the woman was subsequently taken to the hospital for treatment.
Reflecting on the incident, Sergeant Harkins said it was important to remain focused on the task at hand.
“It wasn’t really a thought in my mind. It was just — ‘what can I do to help?’ I was just thinking about how we can safely get everyone home at the end of the day,” she said.
Both officers are happy that the woman can spend the holidays safely with her family.
“I’m happy that she is with her family and she will be with her family for Christmas … I was glad that for another day that we all went home,” Harkins added.
Following the incident, Connecticut State Police released a statement commending the quick and decisive actions of Sergeants Harkins and Belz, acknowledging their bravery in saving the woman’s life.
“We applaud the quick, decisive actions of Sergeant Harkins and Sergeant Belz in saving the life of the female. Thanks to DEEP Colonel Chris Lewis and State Troopers from Troop F who also assisted on scene,” the department said.