PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The home plate umpire who called Wednesday night’s Pittsburgh Pirates game is being hailed a hero after saving a woman’s life on the Roberto Clemente Bridge just hours before the game.
“This was an unbelievable day, and I’m glad to say that she can have another day with us, and I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time,” said MLB umpire John Tumpane at a post-game press conference at PNC Park.
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Tumpane says he went out in the afternoon to grab lunch and was making his way back over the bridge when, about 30 feet in front of him, he saw a woman putting her leg up and down on the bridge’s rail.
He said he asked a couple walking ahead of him, “What’s this lady doing?”
“As I said that, I see her, she flips over the rail onto the other side, and my instinct was just to go right at her, and I didn’t want to scare her because I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on,” Tumpane said. “I just approached her, and I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ and she said, ‘Oh, I just want to get a better look from this side of the rail.’”
He said he put his arm on her shoulder, and talked to her.
Tumpane said he told her: “Come on, why don’t you come back on this side. It’s the same view over here.”
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But she told him: “No, no, no, I’m good.”
“At that point, I knew that she wasn’t just taking a look at the other side,” Tumpane said.
Tumpane, 34, of Chicago, says the woman told him, “You’ll just forget me after this,” as he tried desperately to keep her on the bridge and out of the Allegheny River below.
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“She said, ‘Just let me go, it’ll be better off that way.’ And I said, ‘No, come on, let me buy you lunch. Why don’t you come back on this side and we’ll talk things over. It’ll all work out,’” Tumpane said.
At that point, other passersby stopped to help. Tumpane says he was able to mouth to one man behind him to “call 911.”
He said, “I was able to get both arms around her and hang on and just try to console her and talk to her.”
Other people walking on the bridge jumped in to help, pinning the woman’s arms and legs to the bridge. One of the men was even a member of the Tampa Bay Rays organization, who the Pirates are hosting this week.
“The most difficult part was, at times, she tried actually to go off the ledge there, and her feet were dangling, so we had to pull her up,” Tumpane said. “Then, another gentleman walked by who actually works for the Tampa Bay Rays, we didn’t know this at the time, and he asked what he could do. I said if you could try to hold her ankles at the bottom, through the bottom rail that could help us and he was able to do that and that was a godsend.”
Eventually, a heavy police presence arrived and helped get the woman back onto the bridge.
Before paramedics took her away in an ambulance, Tumpane says he tried to comfort her.
“After she came back on this side, I just went up to her ’cause she said, ‘You’ll just forget me after this,’ and I said, ‘No, I’ll never forget you.’”
And, he’s adamant that he wants no credit for his heroic actions. He just wants to make sure the woman gets the help she needs.
“This isn’t about me,” Tumpane said. “I appreciate this opportunity, but this is just for her, and people care about her, and I’m just glad that this is a positive story and not a sad story today.”
Tumpane tells our news partners at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he’d like to find the woman and see her again before he leaves town.