Athens-Clarke officer saves man from possible fall into river


Dustin Tilley after being sworn-in as a police officer in December 2016

By Joe Johnson

An Athens-Clarke County police officer this week saved a possibly suicidal man from falling from a bridge and into the Middle Oconee River, according to a police incident report.

Officer First Class Dustin Tilley responded to a 911 call that was received at 7:19 a.m. Monday from a person who was concerned about a man sleeping on the railing of a bridge over the river near Atlanta Highway and Epps Bridge Road. According to the report, the caller was concerned the man was going to fall off the railing.

Tilley wrote in this report that that upon arrival at the scene he found a 50-year-old Johnson Drive man lying face-down on the railing, “and if his weight shifted to the right, he would fall 40 feet into the river.”

When the officer asked the man if he would get off of the railing, the man looked at Tilley, shook his head and rested his face back onto his hands, according to the incident report.

“Based on those events, I believed (the man) was a danger to himself and possibly suicidal," the officer noted in his report. “In order to prevent him from falling into the river, I grabbed him from the railing and he fell to the shoulder of the road.”

National EMS transported the man to the hospital for evaluation.

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