Wisconsin State Trooper Les Boldt is being hailed as a hero today after he pulled a woman to safety Monday as she dangled from the side of Green Bay's Leo Frigo Bridge on Interstate 43.
Boldt told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith it all started when he was on patrol Monday morning and was alerted to a high-speed car chase. He was able to intercept the vehicle at the bridge on Interstate 43. But when he started to approach the car, the driver got out of the car and made her way to the edge of the bridge.
Boldt said he was not sure what she was going to do next. "I didn't see nothing in her hands so I wasn't worried about whether she had a gun or not," he told Smith.
As videotape showed, Boldt, in a moment of quick thinking, grabbed the woman's arm just as she jumped over the edge, and, with help from backup officers, pulled her back up to safety.
Boldt said, "The minute she turns away from me and started to walk toward the front of her car, you know she's going to the edge."
Even during the car chase, which began at around 10:00 a.m., the driver, identified only as a 36 year-old woman, exhibited erratic behavior, Boldt said. He said her car hit a speed of 105 miles per hour at one point.
Boldt says, "They said she was possibly suicidal and traveling at a high rate of speed. I managed to find her weaving through traffic, so I had to go pretty quick to catch up to her. When I finally did get behind her, whether she knew I was behind her or not, I don't know. Then I just tried to get her to stop."
That's when she got out of her car, walked to the railing and jumped. Boldt said he was able to grab the woman before she fell and pull her back up with the help of other officers who had arrived on the scene.
"I did slide a little bit," he said. "She did pull me a little ways. There's a steel beam that she hit when she went over that stopped her momentum and mine. I was able to hold on to her and then get her to stand back. She kind of stood back up when I was pulling on her."
Videotaped images show that while Boldt was trying to pull her back up, she was still struggling to get away. The bridge is 200 feet above water, Boldt said.
"I was just busy holding on to the arm," Boldt said. "I never really looked at her face at all. She never really acknowledged that I was there; other than when I was holding on to her arm and she was trying to pull away from me. She didn't say a word. She just kind of screamed a couple times."
The woman was taken to the hospital; Boldt said she suffered some minor cuts.
So did he. "A few minor scratches on my right arm," Boldt says, showing Smith his arm. "Nothing major. Just took a little bit of skin off of it, nothing to worry about."
He brushed off talk of heroism as well. "There's no way I'd have got her back over the top without the help of Sgt. Bill Morgan and Deputy Kevin Kinnard of the Brown County Sheriff's department," he said. "Without those two helping me pull her back over, we'd have never got her back over the top."