MLB Umpire Rescues Woman From Pittsburgh Bridge: 'It Was Just Pure Instinct'

MLB umpire John Tumpane helped save the life of a woman who got too close to the edge of a bridge  

John Tumpane
Photo: Gene J. Puskar/AP

MLB umpire John Tumpane helped save the life of a woman who got too close to the edge of a bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The umpire was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays when the incident occurred.

Tumpane, 34, noticed a woman hopping over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge. She said she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below — but her tone suggested otherwise.

“It was just pure instinct,” Tumpane said in a press conference. “You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, ‘Not on my watch, please.’ We were just hanging on.”

The umpire grabbed the woman’s arm, securing it as a bystander walked by and grabbed her other arm. A Rays employee held her legs, pinning them to the railing as Tumpane called out for someone to call 911.

“I couldn’t tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place,” Tumpane said at the press conference. “Obviously another power comes into be when you’re hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you.”

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The three good Samaritans held the women until emergency workers responded.

“Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side,” said Tumpane, who made his major league debut in 2012. “After that I went up to her, she said, ‘You’ll just forget me after this’ and I said, ‘No, I’ll never forget you.’ This was an unbelievable day and I’m glad to say she can have another day with us and I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time.”

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Wednesday night, the umpire returned to the field to call balls and strikes — Roberto Clemente Bridge just a few hundred feet from PNC Park.

“It’s also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been,” he said. “Glad it was this way.”

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