John Tumpane often has to deal with difficult situations on the field as he works as a Major League Baseball umpire.
One day while he was returning from lunch around 3 p.m., he was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge he saw a woman looking into the Allegheny River below as she was climbing over the railing.
Tumpane said: “Obviously, that grabbed my attention,” so he: “I asked a couple in front of me, ‘What’s this lady trying to do? “and they said: “I don’t know.’ ”
Usually there weren’t many people during that time of the day. Tumpane quickly approached the woman who seemed to be calm and he asked her if she was ok.
She answered: “I just wanted to get a better look of the city from this side,”
Tumpane grabed her with his arms and said: “Oh no, you don’t want to do that. It’s just as good over here. Let’s go grab some lunch and talk.”
She didn’t want to go with him and said: “No, no, no,” and added: “I’m better off on this side. Just let me go.”
Then Tumpane said: “I’m not going to let you go. Let’s talk this out. We’ll get you back over here.”
“Just let me go.” She said: “No one wants to help me,”
He then said: “No, we’re here to help you.”
“You’ll forget me tomorrow.”- She said desperately
Home plate umpire John Tumpane became a hero who saved the woman from committing suicide and just hours before he had received the Pirates lineup card from the first base coach Kimera Bartee whose team played the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tumpane promised this lady that he would never forget her.
The Tumpane whispered to one passer –by to call 911. In the meantime, the woman became emotional and she was crying and trying to release herself from his hug. But he was holding her tight. After a while she dangled both feet off the bridge’s edge.
Tumpane said: “I was thinking, ‘God, this has got to be a good ending, not a bad ending,’. She said: ‘You don’t care about me.’ And he replied: ‘I care.’ Then she said: ‘I just want to end it right now. I want to be in a better place.’ On which I said: ‘You’re going to be all right.’ ”
Other people helped as well. One man pinned her ankles against the bottom rail while other was holding her arms. After a while the ambulance arrived, a police boat, a helicopter and a fire truck. The police officer handcuffed one of her wrists to the bridge and they also put a life preserver on the woman.
Tumpane said to her that everything was going to be ok and he also said: “We’re going to be better if she can get back on this side ‘All these people are here. Look at all these people who want to help you. We’re all here for the right reasons. We want to get you better.’ ”
After she was lifted over the railing, paramedics put her in the ambulance and then Tumpane approached her, knelt next to the woman and asked her about her first name and then he prayed for her.
He told her that he would never forget her and that she was better off on this side than the other side. He added: “I just want her to know that.”
Sonya Toler, a city police spokeswoman stated that this woman was 23 and came from Munhall.
Ambulance took her to UPMC Mercy also known as a 302 warrant which is specialized in emergency evaluation and treating people who are thought to be dangerous for others or themselves.
After the whole stressful experience, Tumpane called his wife to tell her what had happened. He couldn’t relax in his hotel room as he was still under stress. After one hour he went to the ballpark. He said:” it was an interesting afternoon”. He wanted to say good bye to the woman before he left Pittsburgh for his next series in other Major League City.
He said: “It’s a sad day, but it ended on a positive note. Hopefully it’s an eye-opener for her as well, and it can help her get back on track.”
Tumpane was on the right place in a right time. Although he didn’t have someone close who had suicidal thoughts, he was aware that talking about dark truths is crucial although many people avoid talking about this.
In the end, he said: “You never know what somebody’s day looks like,” and “It’s a nice day, everyone’s out for a walk, and somebody’s not having the same day you’re having. I was just glad to help.”