MLB umpire John Tumpane is being hailed as a hero after intervening in a potential suicide attempt on the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tumpane was walking across the bridge around 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon when he witnessed a woman climb over a railing overlooking the Allegheny River. Tumpane reportedly rushed to the woman’s side and managed to keep her occupied while another passerby called 911.
The bridge was mostly empty at that time of day. Tumpane rushed toward the woman, who appeared calm, and asking what was going on.
“I just wanted to get a better look of the city from this side,” she replied, according to the umpire’s recollection.
“Oh no,” Tumpane said, hooking his arm around hers. “You don’t want to do that. It’s just as good over here. Let’s go grab some lunch and talk.”
“No, no, no,” she answered. “I’m better off on this side. Just let me go.”
“I’m not going to let you go,” he said. “Let’s talk this out. We’ll get you back over here.”
Tumpane’s quick thinking and calm demeanor are being credited with keeping the situation from escalating to a tragic outcome. He was eventually assisted by two other men, who helds her arms and ankles. This allowed the police enough time to send a boat and other rescue equipment to the scene, though none was ultimately needed.
“I was thinking, ‘God, this has got to be a good ending, not a bad ending,’ and held on for dear life,” Tumpane said. “She said, ‘You don’t care about me.’ I said, ‘I care.’ She said, ‘I just want to end it right now. I want to be in a better place.’ I said, ‘You’re going to be all right.’ ”
In describing the experience, Tumpane says he was simply in the right place at the right time. But it takes undeniable courage to take ownership of a situation that others may not have felt comfortable stepping into.
From there, Tumpane had to quickly collect himself and head to PNC Park, where he called balls and strikes for the Pirates 6-2 win against the Rays.
Not surprisingly, he handled that task with the same poise as he did in helping to rescue the unidentified woman. But she was still on his mind before and after Wednesday’s game. Tumpane added that he hopes he’ll be able to reconnect with the woman before leaving Pittsburgh on Thursday.
It’s often said the best umpires are the ones who go unnoticed. But John Tumpane reminded us of the importance of being aware and being willing to step up to help others.
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