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Martin County chief deputy stops distraught man from taking his own life

Martin County Chief Deputy John Budensiek speaks to a man on the Martin Highway overpass bridge on March 19, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:13 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 18:27:13-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The Martin County Sheriff's Office is sharing a story of success after de-escalating a tense situation that played out for hours high above the Florida Turnpike.

Each day, thousands of cars drive the Florida Turnpike and pass under the overpass bridge on Martin Highway near Palm City.

But on Saturday, the Turnpike was shut down in both directions as the Martin County Sheriff's Office spent hours negotiating and trying to prevent a man from taking his own life by jumping off the overpass.

"His mother had died a couple weeks ago and then his brother had just passed away," said Chief Deputy John Budensiek.

The first calls came in around 7 p.m., and Budensiek was at the bridge in minutes.

"He appeared to be trying to work up the nerve to jump," Budensiek said.

The man was standing on top of the fence over the crosswalk. We're told he didn't appear intoxicated, but emotionally distraught, and he stopped here on his way to his brother's funeral in Orlando.

Members of the Martin County Sheriff's Behavioral Health Unit and Hostage Negotiation Team were out here for three hours. But then the man asked to speak with Budensiek, who was able to convince him to safely surrender.

"We were relieved," Budensiek said. "We had a long religious conversation and I think that really was what gave him the moment of pause."

The man in his 50s was taken to a mental health facility for treatment.

A safe ending to a tense situation.

"We see people take their lives on a regular basis. Thankful we had the opportunity to talk to him and we'll keep trying," Budensiek said.