Police save man from jumping off Alma Lee Loy Bridge

VERO BEACH — Two police officers negotiated with a man to stop him from jumping off the Alma Lee Loy Bridge on Monday, officials said. No injuries were reported in the incident, police said.

Vero Beach Police Senior Officer Jason Jones
PHOTO PROVIDED BY VERO BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT

Vero Beach Master Police Officer Jason Jones and Officer Greg Matakaetis spoke with the man for approximately 25 minutes. The man had descended a ladder from the top of the bridge to a platform below and threatened to jump into the water, police spokesman Petty Officer Darrell Rivers said.

The man called 911 around 10:30 a.m. Rivers said police lost communication with the caller, but were able to ping the man’s phone and track his location on the east side of the bridge.

Four officers, including Jones and Matakaetis, responded to the call. Rivers said Jones is trained in crisis intervention and hostage negotiation.

Vero Beach Police Officer Greg Matakaetis
PHOTO PROVIDED BY VERO BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT

Rivers said Jones and Matakaetis convinced the man to climb back up the ladder to safety. The man was taken to the Center for Emotional and Behavioral Health for a psychiatric health evaluation.

Jones worked at the Vero Beach Police Department for 32 years. Matakaetis has been with the agency for a year and a half, but also has 15 years of law enforcement experience with the Clinton Police Department in Connecticut, Rivers said.

Rivers said all Vero Beach police officers complete a 40-hour crisis intervention training course at Indian River State College. The training also paid off in 2017, when officers Richard Chimenti and Kyle Eder stopped a man from jumping off the Alma Lee Loy Bridge.

The two officers grabbed the man in the air after he jumped off and hauled him to safety. Chimenti and Eder both received Life Saving Awards a month after the incident.

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