Ashley Harkins

A suicidal woman in her early 60s had climbed a 10-foot safety fence on the Baldwin Bridge in Old Lyme, Connecticut, on Nov. 27, 2023, and sat on a 9-inch-wide concrete ledge that was 80 feet above the Connecticut River. Ashley Harkins, 37, a police sergeant from Westbrook, Connecticut, had finished her shift and was off-duty but responded to the 911 call along with another sergeant. The other sergeant attempted to talk to the shivering woman while Harkins scaled the fence behind her with no safety equipment or ropes. She descended the other side to the narrow ledge, scooted a few feet toward the woman, and then maneuvered to have one arm and one leg on either side of her. She gripped the fence and secured the woman to the fence with her body to keep her from falling. Harkins helped place the woman’s foot on her thigh for leverage while she grasped the fence with one hand. Harkins pushed the woman up by her foot so she could climb the fence to waiting officers. The woman was cold from exposure to wind and temperatures in the low 50s but was otherwise uninjured. She was taken to a hospital for emergency mental health evaluation. Harkins was not injured during the incident.

Harkins begins to climb to rescue a distressed woman who stood on the ledge of the Baldwin Bridge in Westbrook, Connecticut. Courtesy of Connecticut state police.