“I’ll never forget you,” MLB umpire John Tumpane told a desperate woman moments before she tried to take her own life by jumping off the Roberto Clemente Bridge. “You can have my promise on that.”
Alleviating tense situations on the baseball diamond doesn’t quite compare to what Tumpane did on Wednesday afternoon. When coming home from a daily jog and getting some lunch he noticed the 23-year-old from Munhall attempting suicide. He saw the woman hoist herself over a railing and stare down at the Allegheny River below.
“Obviously, that grabbed my attention,” he said. “I asked a couple in front of me, ‘What’s this lady trying to do?’ and they said, ‘I don’t know.’”
The Chicago native and soon-to-be hero came upon the woman before he was scheduled to umpire at the Pirates game against the Tampa Bay Rays later that night. Tumpane told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that when he asked what she was up to she said, “I just wanted to get a better look of the city from this side.”
Tumpane then grabbed the young woman, hooking his arms around her and said, “Oh no. You don’t want to do that. It’s just as good over here. Let’s go grab some lunch and talk.”
“No, no, no,” the distraught woman replied. “I’m better off on this side. Just let me go.”
“I’m not going to let you go,” Tumpane said. “Let’s talk this out. We’ll get you back over here.”
“No one wants to help me, just let me go,” she responded.
Tumpane then said, “No, we’re here to help you,” but the woman answered, “You’ll forget me tomorrow.”
“I’ll never forget you,” Tumpane said. “You can have my promise on that.”
The situation got to the point where the “man in blue” had to hold her while her feet were dangling over the edge of the bridge. “I was thinking, ‘God, this has got to be a good ending, not a bad ending,’ and held on for dear life,” Tumpane explained.
“She said, ‘You don’t care about me.’ I said, ‘I care.’ She said, ‘I just want to end it right now. I want to be in a better place.’ I said, ‘You’re going to be all right.’”
Fortunately, Tumpane’s shouting for someone to call 911 was answered as another man grabbed the woman’s arms while another secured her ankles to the bridge. A police boat, a helicopter, an ambulance, a fire truck, and policemen soon arrived at the scene. They placed a life preserver on her and shackled her wrists to the bridge with handcuffs.
The woman was taken to UPMC Mercy, according to the Gazette on “a 302 warrant—an involuntary commitment for emergency evaluation and treatment for persons who are a danger to themselves or others.” Tumpane says he hopes to make contact with the woman before he leaves Pittsburg for his next MLB assignment in another city.
“You never know what somebody’s day looks like,” he said. “It’s a nice day, everyone’s out for a walk, and somebody’s not having the same day you’re having. I was just glad to help.”
Fans hearing about Tumpane’s brave action tweeted positively about the city’s new hero:
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) June 29, 2017
— Kathy Murphy (@katmur23) June 30, 2017