UPDATE: I-215 re-opened after officials coax suicidal woman to safety

UPDATED: Thursday, Dec. 13, 5:45 p.m.

PERRIS — A woman who had been threatening to leap from the Harley Knox overpass onto the I-215 is in protective custody, after officials coaxed the woman to return onto the safe side of the overpass’s fence tonight. The fence the woman had climbed over is intended to discourage people from jumping off the overpass.

In the absence of an available safety net, officials used the innovative approach of bringing tractor-trailer big-rig combos directly under where the woman had been clinging onto the fence, in an effort to lesson the distance the woman would have fallen, had she decided to jump.

According to a CHP incident log, the southbound lanes of the freeway have already been re-opened. Northbound lanes were expected to be re-opened soon, but were still closed as of this update.

CHP’s incident log indicated that the woman had made it back to the other side of the fence at 5:24 p.m.,  just over two hours after the incident began.

It was not immediately known if CHP or Riverside Sheriff’s Department was handling the investigation and neither agency has released any additional information regarding the incident.


Original Story: BREAKING: Suicidal woman at Harley Knox overpass chokes I-215

UPDATED: Thursday, Dec. 13, 5 p.m., With additional information, photos, and video from scene.

PERRIS — Traffic on Interstate 215 is backed up for miles while officials try to coax a distraught woman back from the edge of the Harley Knox overpass in Perris. According to a CHP incident log, the unidentified woman has climbed over a fence on the overpass and is clinging to the fence while threatening to leap to her death.


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Traffic is backed up for miles while officials try to coax a suicidal subject from the Harley Knox overpass. John Strongson photo

California Highway Patrol says they have shut down all northbound lanes of the freeway and that crisis negotiators have been summoned to the scene.

Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire personnel were requested to begin the process of deploying safety nets beneath the bridge, should the woman actually jump; however, Cal Fire later updated that they did not have nets available at the time.

The lack of safety netting forced CHP to use a more innovative approach, and video shot from the scene by Fred Pedregon showed numerous trucks being lined up below the overpass, in an effort to lessen the distance the victim would drop, should she decide to jump or accidentally fall.

Pedregon’s video also showed sheriff, CHP, and fire officials trying to convince the person back onto the safe side of a fence intended to discourage people from jumping off the overpass. 

One area resident, John Strongson reported being stuck in the heavy traffic; however, he said he and his family were able to exit the freeway to bypass the traffic nightmare that the incident has created. A photo Strongson submitted to RCNS showed bumper to bumper traffic on the freeway for as far as the eye could see.

CHP’s incident log indicates the subject on the bridge is a female and that a SigAlert was issued at 3:30 p.m., due to heavy congestion caused in both directions of travel by the ongoing incident.

Officials have not yet provided any further details or updates as of this report.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.