Cayman Islands Police Superintendent Marlon Bodden has been credited with saving the life of a distraught woman who climbed to the top of an airport radar tower last Thursday and threatened to jump.
Police were told the 32-year-old woman had been spotted dousing the ground around the tower with gasoline, and had proceeded to climb the tower stairs after she finished pouring out the gas.
Officers were called to the scene near the office of telecommunications, which is near the airport, around 11:30am Thursday. They were unable to calm the woman down.
Superintendent Bodden, the head of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Criminal Investigations Department, was called shortly afterward. He is the most highly-trained negotiator in the police service.
‘She was up on the tip-top (of the tower) for a long time,’ Mr. Bodden said. ‘When I managed to get through to her, she came down a little lower, and then she got irate and started to go back up again. Then she started calling or signing ‘I’m gonna jump from here.’
‘She was really, really irate, a lot of indecent language. She said derogatory things to me but you can’t pay that any mind because the person is challenged.’
Mr. Bodden said the woman is someone police have dealt with before, and is known to be mentally challenged.
‘When she got to the edge (at the top of the tower)…I thought ‘that was it’, I’m going to be honest. But I just let her know ‘darling it’s in your best interest to be able to talk about this, let’s talk a little bit more, I’ll get you something to eat’…stuff like that.’
Eventually, Mr. Bodden talked the woman down to about 30-35 feet above ground when the situation took a turn for the worse again.
‘She jumped onto the outer bar…where the back of her knees were caught on the (rail) and she was upside down.’
He described her as being in a ‘monkey-stance’ at that point, with her legs over the bar and her hands grasping the tower railing.
Mr. Bodden said Thursday’s rain had left conditions slippery on the tower, and he knew the woman wouldn’t be able to hold on in that position much longer.
‘If she had let go from there, that was immediate death,’ he said.
The woman turned her head away from Mr. Bodden for just a moment, so he said he took a chance and quietly went up the tower stairs.
‘I ran up and I grabbed her…because one of her hands had slipped. So, I ran up, hugged her and held on. I basically pinned her against the metal frame and called for one of the officers to come and give me some assistance.’
The woman was eventually taken down from the tower by officers, and paramedics were called in to check her out. She was later taken to hospital for treatment, and is expected to be fine.
Mr. Bodden said the situation was one of the tensest and most emotional he’s ever been involved in.
‘When I sat her down on the floor, I put my arms around her and said ‘look, you know, thanks for working with me on this.’
‘She looked at me and said ‘thanks for loving me.’ That was like a hot iron that went through me, man.’
Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis praised Superintendent Bodden’s actions during the negotiation and rescue.
‘There is no doubt in my mind that he saved this lady’s life,’ Mr. Ennis said.