Cooperation averts potential tragedy

Published 10:37 am Tuesday, August 7, 2012

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

When I attempted to get onto Interstate 65 south at the Pelham tank farm exit on my way to the office last Wednesday only to find the onramp barricaded by a police cruiser, I knew something big was happening.

The police don’t close down the entire interstate during the tail end of the morning rush hour for anything less.

After I took a detour to Alabaster on Shelby County 11, I soon found the lane closures weren’t confined to just I-65, as traffic near the intersection of Shelby County 11 and U.S. 31 was at a near-standstill.

After seeing that the southbound side of the exit 238 overpass was closed, I found a spot on U.S. 31 to park my car and see what was going on. As I approached the bridge, I quickly discovered what was happening.

A man was sitting on the railing of the overpass with his feet hanging dozens of feet over the interstate below. I didn’t know the man’s situation, and I probably never will, but my heart broke for him and I started praying for him.

After fearing the worst, my prayers were eventually answered by the contingent of police and fire department officials who were on the scene. I saw vehicles from the Alabaster and Pelham police departments, the Alabaster Fire Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama State Troopers.

After talking with the man for more than an hour, officers were eventually able to talk the man off the railing and into custody. He was later transported to UAB Hospital for treatment.

Just like the first responders on the scene, I hope I never see a situation like that again. On that day, it didn’t matter what agency the emergency responders were with. They all worked together to bring a peaceful resolution to a potentially tragic situation.

I am very thankful to the officers and firefighters who helped to save a life worth saving.

Neal Wagner is the City Editor for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 or by email at