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Interstate shut down when man threatens to jump

March 04, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A man threatening to jump off a West Washington Street overpass onto Interstate 81 Wednesday night caused police to shut down the highway in both directions as they tried to talk the person down, police and police dispatchers said.

A Washington County Sheriff's Department dispatcher said police got the call of a person threatening to jump at about 8:45 p.m.

At 11:10 p.m., a dispatcher said police were able to talk the man down from the overpass, just west of the intersection of West Washington Street and Western Maryland Parkway.

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At that intersection, traffic headed southbound on I-81 could be seen from a distance to be at a standstill.

"Traffic is bad. Traffic is still tied up," said 1st Sgt. J.L. Meyers of the Maryland State Police barrack in Hagerstown, before the man came down from the overpass.

He said state police received numerous calls from motorists stuck in traffic.

"The State Highway Administration is on the scene, so hopefully they'll be able to get the (traffic) situation resolved," Meyers said.

Meyers said fire and ambulance departments and a negotiator were on the scene providing assistance.

Meyers said he wasn't sure which police department the negotiator was with.

The family of the man threatening to jump also was at the scene, Meyers said.

The incident happened in the sheriff's department's and the Maryland State Police's jurisdiction, a sheriff's department dispatcher said.

At least three marked Hagerstown Police Department cruisers, several unmarked police cars - all with their flashing lights on - and flares blocked the intersection, preventing cars from driving to the overpass.

Additional police cruisers could be seen in the area of the person threatening to jump.

A city police officer conducted traffic coming off Western Maryland Parkway and West Washington Street. One car attempted to drive through the barricade, but was chased down by the officer on foot and an unmarked police car.

A few minutes later, the car was redirected to Western Maryland Parkway to U.S. 40.

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