ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — An Atlantic City police officer is being hailed as a hero for stopping a suicidal man from jumping from the top of a casino parking garage. Dramatic body camera footage shows Officer Eric Knuttel, a five-year veteran, pulling the distraught man from the ledge of the 13-story-high Claridge parking garage on Wednesday night.
The 33-year-old officer spoke exclusively with CBS3.
“You could just hear in his voice he was distraught and he was hurting,” Knuttel said.
According to Atlantic City Police, the Pleasantville Police Department reached out to them that a suicidal man was in Atlantic City and threatening to jump from the bridge.
Knuttel, a member of the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team, located the distressed man sitting on a ledge at the top of the garage and began engaging him to talk him down.
“We had a fairly long conversation. We were going to try to build rapport with him, so he knew somebody cared, and he knew somebody was there for him and not just him against the world,” Knuttel said.
Police say 10 minutes pass as the man, who had been drinking, talks to a person on FaceTime. Knuttel, a trained crisis negotiator, grows concerned as the man becomes upset.
“I saw him stand up and look toward the sides and he rolled his head down and he started walking. I knew that I had to do something,” Knuttel said.
That’s when Knuttel broke toward him, grabbing the man’s legs to keep him stationary as other responding officers pull the two back from the ledge.
Everyone goes to the ground where officers try consoling the man as Knuttel rubs his back and their eyes meet. Knuttel told the man, “I love you.”
“I just could just hear it in his voice, he started crying. You could hear him weeping and I just remember telling him I loved him. I thought he needed to hear that,” Knuttel said. “I had so much compassion and so much love for the man that I wanted him to know that people care about him. I never met him ever in my life. I believe that I was put there in that moment of time for that reason.”
The man was transported to Atlantic Care Regional Medical Center for treatment.
Knuttel is hoping to stay in contact with the man he helped save.
“I know in my heart that man will succeed in life,” Knuttel said.
Knuttel was assisted in the rescue by Sgt. John Waddell and Officers Matthew Stollenwerk, Randy Rodriguez-Marte, Irwin Sanchez and Kyle Fauvell.
For anyone that needs assistance, or knows someone that needs assistance, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.
CBS3’s Dan Koob contributed to this report.
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