A suicidal woman standing on the edge of the Peoria Avenue overpass above the Broken Arrow Expressway was rescued after Tulsa's Crisis Response Team intervened Tuesday.
Several people reportedly saw the woman standing on the other side of the guardrail over the westbound lanes of the highway shortly before 4 p.m. and tried to coax her back onto the overpass. When those attempts didn't work, they called police.
Officers quickly responded to the scene and shut down Peoria in both directions in addition to the westbound lanes of the BA Expressway. Police then contacted the city's Community Response Team, which took over negotiations with the woman.
The CRT program, which launched in February, is designed to aid people in crisis in the field and divert them from jail cells or emergency rooms. The team consists of an officer, a paramedic and a mental health counselor.
Tulsa Police Capt. Shellie Seibert, who is also the department's mental health coordinator, said the woman did not verbally threaten to jump but clearly was suffering from a mental-health crisis.
While talking with the woman as she stood outside the guardrail, the CRT learned that the woman was from out of state but recently had been living homeless in Tulsa.
"She's having a rough time," Seibert said. "She's homeless out in this weather, had no place to go."
About two hours after the standoff began, the CRT talked the woman back onto the overpass, causing Peoria and the highway to reopen.
Seibert praised the mental-health team's ability to de-escalate situations and break through to people in distress.
Little things like handing the woman a coat due to the rain and approaching her in a fire truck rather than a police car can go a long way.
"That's something that can make a big difference, having the fire vehicle de-escalate the situation," she said.
The woman was taken to the hospital to be treated and will not face charges.