Friday, August 25, 2000

She jumped, he was there to catch her

Officer's arms break fall of woman seeking death

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — When rookie Officer Lanny Ash arrived Wednesday at the scene where a woman was threatening to kill herself by jumping off an overpass onto a city street, he thought “there's no way she's going to jump.”

[photo] Hamilton Officer Lanny Ash caught a woman who jumped from the Witt Way overpass at High Street early Wednesday.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        “She was going side-to-side and looking around like she was confused and scared,” said the 27-year-old officer. “Before you knew it, she was coming down.”

        Head first.

        Officer Ash, standing on High Street about 15 feet below the overpass, deflected the 140-pound woman's fall enough that she broke only her left elbow.

        “It seemed like it was in slow motion,” he said Thursday from home, recovering from his own injuries. “The first thing I thought when she jumped was, "I hope I don't hurt my back.' She fell pretty much in my arms.”

        Officer Ash suffered strained biceps in both arms and was treated at a hospital and released.

        It was 2:15 a.m. and fewer than a dozen cars were on High Street when Officer Ash arrived. Another officer stood on the overpass — about 20 feet from the 23-year-old woman — trying to talk her out of jumping. The first thing Officer Ash did was stop traffic. Then he positioned himself under the west side of the overpass, directly below the woman.

        Police Chief Neil Ferdelman commended Officer Ash for his act of heroism.

        “We are thankful that Officer Ash was able to act in such a way as to prevent the death of (the woman),” Chief Ferdelman said.

        But Officer Ash shrugged off the feat.

        “Really, it's no big deal,” he said, though he acknowledged he has revisited the scene in his mind. “I think about it a lot. I told my fiancee I don't believe this lady tried to jump off of here, just for the simple fact that I value my life.”

        The young officer has not talked with the woman since he got her name at the hospital early Wednesday. The woman, who had been reported missing prior to her jump, could not be reached for comment. She was being treated at Clermont Mercy Hospital. Her condition was unavailable.

        The Enquirer is not naming the woman under its policy regarding attempted suicides.

        The officer had a message for the Hamilton woman: “Hopefully, she takes advantage of just injuring her elbow and gets the proper help she needs to better her life.”

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