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Man rescued from cell tower
A man reportedly attempting to commit suicide by jumping off a 140 feet tall cell phone tower Thursday afternoon at 15840 S. Avenue G was rescued after almost five hours of tense negotiations.
The man, who was in his late 50s, climbed up the tower located behind an agriculture business at about 1 p.m. His identity has not been released to the public.
At about 1:17 p.m., emergency personnel with the Somerton/Cocopah Fire Department were dispatched to the cell phone tower, and upon arrival found the man hanging on to the structure about 140 feet above the ground.
SCFD then contacted the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and requested a Crisis Management Unit negotiator to persuade the man to safely come down from the tower. Deputies were also dispatched.
SCFD also set up a command center with the aid of mobile command units provided by YCSO and the Cocopah Police Department.
Due to the extreme height involved, an SCFD ladder truck with a 100-foot-tall ladder was sent to the tower.
Corp. Sal Perez, a YCSO Negotiator, boarded the ladder truck platform along with an SCFD firefighter and ascended 100 feet to speak with the man on the tower. Perez talked to the man for over two hours to try and talk him into coming down.
Due to the heat, which hit a high of about 108 degrees, Perez and the firefighter were lowered down to receive fluids intravenously and to cool off. Afterward, they both went back up for another two hours of negotiations.
During this time, SCFD contacted the Yuma Fire Department to request a Technical Rescue Team (TRT).
Once the YFD TRT – consisting of Capt. John Whitson, Manny Lara and Alex Ursua – were on scene, they prepared their equipment and got ready to go up if necessary. After hours of negotiating, the man told the negotiator he wanted to come down at about 5:30 p.m. ?Perez “did an outstanding job,” Rodriguez said, noting the negotiator was well aware of the danger the man was in.
The TRT then ascended the SCFD Ladder truck with the aid of SCFD firefighter David Fuentes. Once the TRT had reached the 100 feet limit of the ladder, they continued on, climbing an additional 40 feet to reach the man. “The guys on the TRT aren't afraid of heights,” Rodriguez said. “They are very talented individuals.”
Once they got to the top, Whitson, Lara and Ursua placed a harness device around the man to secure him. “By the time YFD's team got up there (the man) was limp – he was just exhausted after holding on for close to five hours,” Rodriguez said.
Using ropes, the team lowered the man 40 feet to the SCFD ladder platform which took him the rest of the way. “They did a great job,” Rodriguez said. “They brought the guy down safe and they got down safe.”
Once the man was on the ground, emergency personnel inserted “multiple IVs” into the man, and “started cooling him down,” Rodriguez added.
The man was then transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center to receive treatment for dehydration.
While SCFD firefighters were at the cell phone tower, emergency personnel from both YFD and the San Luis Fire Department were sent to Somerton to respond to about four emergency calls for service in that city.