John Tumpane has faced countless high-pressure situations in his time as a Major League Baseball umpire, but none of that compares to the situation he faced Wednesday on the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh.
Tumpane was walking across the bridge toward PNC Park when he saw a woman climb over the bridge’s railing and look to jump into the Allegheny River. But what Trumpane did next was nothing short of heroic.
“I asked a couple in front of me, ‘What’s this lady trying to do?’ and they said, ‘I don’t know,'” Tumpane told Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The 34-year-old umpire hurried over to the woman and began to defuse the situation, per Nesbitt.
“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.”
“No one wants to help me,” she repeated. “Just let me go.”
“No, we’re here to help you.”
“You’ll forget me tomorrow.”
“I’ll never forget you,” he said. “You can have my promise on that.”
Tumpane was able to haul the woman back over the bridge with the help of some other citizens and keep her subdued until the police arrived. Although, at one point, Tumpane was holding all her weight over the river, as he had both his arms around her while she struggled and dangled her feet off the bridge.
“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.'”
The woman was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and Tumpane hopes to visit her before he leaves town for his next series.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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