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Deputy saves jumper

Deputy Dan Waggoner was recently awarded for stopping a man from jumping off Deception Pass Bridge. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Deputy Dan Waggoner was recently awarded for stopping a man from jumping off Deception Pass Bridge.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

A suicidal man had climbed over the railing of Deception Pass Bridge and was on his way to near-certain death when a quick-thinking deputy reached out and pulled him back from the brink.

Monday, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown recognized Deputy Dan Waggoner with a lifesaving medal for his heroic actions. Waggoner couldn’t attend the packed county commissioner meeting because he was at a call, dealing with a teenager who was threatening family members with a knife.

Brown briefly described the dramatic March 14 incident, leaving no doubt that Waggoner saved the man’s life and risked his own.

“I’m extremely proud of Deputy Waggoner, as we should all be,” the sheriff said.

In an interview, Waggoner explained that the incident occurred when he was driving across the bridge to Whidbey to start his shift at about 9 p.m. He noticed a car parked oddly, as well as scattered beer cans, at the lot on the Whidbey side of the bridge.

The deputy rolled down his window and asked the 30-something driver if he was OK. The man seemed dazed, Waggoner said, and ignored his inquiries. Waggoner quickly got out of his car and followed as the man “speed walked” onto the bridge walkway.

Just as they got over the water, which is about a 180-foot drop, the man turned around a gave Waggoner an odd, blank look. Then the man put his leg over the railing and started to roll over.

“The share of his body weight was over the railing,” Waggoner explained. “He was gone.”

But not quite. Waggoner said he just grabbed the guy and pulled. The man fought, grasping and pulling to go back over.

“It was a good thing he was a smaller guy,” Waggoner said. He’s not sure if his feet ever left the ground during the tussle or how close they came to going over together.

“I just didn’t think about it,” he said.

The deputy finally got the man onto the ground and wrestled with him for a few minutes before getting him into a hold and handcuffs. Waggoner said the man suddenly became limp and started to shake all over, possibly from a seizure. The despondent man had apparently mixed alcohol and pills, the deputy said.

The paramedics soon arrived and transported the man to the hospital. He’s now fine, at least physically.

“The only thing that we could get out of him was that he was in extreme debt,” the deputy indicated.

Waggoner said he still worries about the man and wishes him the best in his life.

“He’s certainly alive today because of Deputy Waggoner’s efforts,” Brown said.

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