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Orange County

Man Plunges Onto Freeway, Jams Traffic

March 02, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A suicidal, knife-wielding man threatening to jump from a highway flyover onto the San Diego Freeway caused a traffic nightmare Saturday afternoon, backing up several freeways for about an hour before falling to the pavement below.

California Highway Patrol officers grabbed the 32-year-old Tustin man's right leg as he lunged over a guardrail but were unable to hold on. He fell about 50 feet from the southbound connector of the Costa Mesa Freeway onto the northbound San Diego Freeway, which had been closed in both directions.

He suffered numerous broken bones and was taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana in critical condition.

The incident started shortly after 3 p.m. when the CHP received reports of a car blocking the transition road and of a crying man.

He was straddling the guard rail when officers arrived. He told them he had nothing to live for, dispatcher Mike Sheldon said.

As the officers tried to talk to the man, he became more agitated, Sheldon said. He jumped just after 4 p.m., but officers were able to grab his leg.

"As they were trying to pull him back up, he continued to struggle and swiped the officers with the knife," Sheldon said. He used the overpass to pull away from officers and fell.

"As far as I could see, traffic was really backed up," said Costa Mesa Police Sgt. Dave Hamel. "The 405 northbound and southbound were extremely congested. The 55 was affected and so was the 73."

Traffic on streets around the freeways was also heavy.

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