An incident in Modesto threw an unexpected wrench into Friday’s typically heavy traffic in Manteca and Ripon – clogging freeways just as afternoon commuters began filling up the Highway 99 and 120 Bypass corridors.
The California Highway Patrol made the decision to close both lanes of Highway 99 in Downtown Modesto Friday afternoon after a man scaled the fence on the Woodland Avenue overcrossing and threatened to jump. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputies and the CHP cordoned off the overpass and began negotiating with the man while CHP officers executed a traffic break in both directions on Highway 99 to bring traffic to a stop – an attempt to protect the life of the man and the motorists that could passing beneath.
The freeway was shut down more than two hours before negotiators were able to talk the man off the fence shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Friday – by which time southbound traffic had already backed up to nearly Manteca, and northbound traffic snaked clear through South Modesto and past Ceres.
Motorists that were near the scene could be spotted sitting on the side of the roadway or on the hoods of their vehicles as they waited for traffic to get moving again. Some were taking video and pictures of the man that was hanging perilously over the edge of the chain link fence lining the sides of the overcrossing ahead of them.
Because of the lingering effects of the traffic disruption, northbound traffic into Manteca was heavy well past 5 p.m., and the southbound commute was even more congested.
The man was taken into custody without incident and was transported to an area hospital where he is believed to have undergone an evaluation.
While the traffic mess disrupted motorists for hours, the CHP’s Modesto office reminded people in a Facebook post about the conclusion of the incident that their duty to save lives extends to everybody.
“The CHP understands the inconvenience caused to those traveling through the area,” the post read. “Ultimately though, our jobs as officers is to save lives – all lives.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.