The California Highway Patrol spent close to 14 hours and 45 minutes on Tuesday negotiating with a man who threatened to jump off the Old Middlefield Way offramp over Highway 101 in Mountain View. CHP officials say they were able to convince him to come back over the railing, and took him into custody as of 10:45 p.m.
CHP received reports around 8 a.m. that a man was walking along the offramp, and officers who arrived saw him sitting on the south railing facing northbound traffic, according to officer Dave LaRock. Traffic was immediately shut down for all northbound lanes as crisis negotiators arrived to talk to the man, LaRock said.
Over the lengthy negotiations that lasted well into the night, LaRock said the CHP brought several family members of the man from Marin County to help aid them in their efforts.
"Eventually the subject voluntarily came to the other side of the railing and, without resistance, was taken away for mental evaluation," LaRock said.
The man was transported via ambulance and put on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Fire personnel were stationed nearby throughout the incident.
Though cars on northbound Highway 101 were trapped in a standstill for the first hour, drivers were allowed to slip by the incident along the Old Middlefield Way offramp, which has one lane that reconnects with the highway on the other side of the intersection. But it still created a bottleneck, with six lanes of traffic narrowed down to one, LaRock said, causing backups that continued through 10 p.m. that evening.
Traffic was largely managed by the CHP and Caltrans, with early help from the Mountain View Police Department.
When asked about the significant length of time, LaRock said every situation is different. In this case, options like incapacitating the man would have risked having him fall. It was also unreasonable to try and create a safe landing zone. Instead, LaRock said crisis negotiators used time and patience.
"The CHP will always use time to our advantage. There is no need to rush in when one decision could lead to a negative result," LaRock said. "Time doesn't hurt anybody, and words -- talking and trying to find resolution -- worked in our favor."
LaRock said he understands drivers in the moment may have been frustrated by the delays, but he believes anyone would want the CHP to do the same for their own loved ones.
"Every person matters, and everyone deserves the same amount of respect and patience in the matter," he said.