A 39-year-old Tacoma-area man was taken to a Lakewood hospital for a mental health evaluation after law enforcement officers talked him off a sign over state Route 7 and state Route 512 on Sunday afternoon.
The Washington State Patrol and Pierce County sheriff’s deputies spent about two hours talking with the man before he climbed down.
Trooper Guy Gill said the negotiators had to counter negative comments from passing motorists and eventually shut down all lanes of SR 512.
“It puts us in a rough spot because we are having to counteract what people are saying,” trooper Guy Gill said. “It had to be done for public safety.”
Troopers were first called to the area about 12:45 p.m. Sunday. Callers reported seeing a man climbing up a sign that hangs over Pacific Avenue where it crosses over SR 512, Gill said. The man sat atop one end of the sign and dangled his feet over SR 512 below.
Troopers quickly shut down both directions of westbound SR 512. About 1 p.m., they blocked off the left lane of eastbound SR 512, leaving one lane open for eastbound drivers.
As troopers and deputies talked to the man, they could hear drivers yelling comments as they passed under the overpass.
Because of those comments “every time we took a step forward we took two steps back,” Gill said.
Troopers decided to block off the last lane of SR 512 about 2 p.m., shutting the freeway down.
The man came down a short time later. The highway was reopened by 2:40 p.m.
The man was taken to St. Clare Hospital for an evaluation and treatment.