CHP Defends 10-Hour Highway 99 Closure to Help Man in Crisis

SACRAMENTO -- Highway 99 in South Sacramento was closed from around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon wouldn't reopen until around midnight -- 10 hours later.

"The reason why this took so long was the safety of the individual who was in crisis with mental health issues," CHP Officer Jim Young said.

California Highway Patrol says a homeless man was on the Stockton Boulevard, Highway 99 southbound on-ramp. The road goes over the freeway and has low guard rails because pedestrians aren't allowed there.

"And if you go on any on-ramp throughout Sacramento that has pedestrian sidewalks, you'll see that there's a fence and the guardrail is a little bit higher to stop something like this," Young said.

But who did end up stopping the man from jumping wasn't one of the many crisis negotiators at the scene, but a CHP officer.

"He's had many contacts with him, he works in this area, knows a lot of the homeless individuals who may have mental health issues," Young said of the officer.

That officer didn't even start his shift until 10 p.m. that evening, but as soon as he saw a photo of the man in crisis, he realized he knew him.

So the officer asked his superiors if he could speak to the man.

"Once he started speaking to this individual who trusted him, who has had many pleasant contacts with this officer, he decided to come down and take the services that we were offering him," Young said.

The CHP says vehicles were detoured off the highway into, at times, a traffic nightmare, for the safety of everyone.

"He could have landed on top of a vehicle which could have hurt somebody else," Young told FOX40.

The CHP says even though it inconvenienced thousands, the decision to close the freeway is one they’d make again.

"What if it was your mother or your father?" Young said. "Or, God forbid, one of your children that were going through a crisis and were threatening to kill themselves. Wouldn't you want law enforcement to take every step necessary to take as much time as possible to make sure it comes to a peaceful conclusion?"

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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