Police Officer Prevents Suicide On Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge


Officer Paul Zajieck wasn’t expecting a physical altercation to turn into an attempted suicide, but that’s the life of a police officer.

The City of Cape Girardeau Police Department’s officer responded to a fight on the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge at 6:43 p.m. on Jan. 30. Two females were in an altercation in the east bound traffic lane going to Illinois.

“The first thing [Officer Rich McCall and I] needed to do was get them separated and off of the roadway,” Zajicek said.

The woman talking to Zaijeck the said she was having family problems and needed to go for a walk. She then turned and began to walk away from Zaijeck, who told her to stop. She complied and then told Zaijeck her friend, the woman she was fighting with, was trying to talk her into returning to the Family Counseling Center for substance counseling.

The officers had no idea that the woman had suicidal intentions or that the day was the anniversary of her father killing himself. Zajicek had turned his attention to speak with McCall and the other woman. McCall suddenly started yelling that she was going to jump.

“She was on top and over the rail in a split second,” Zajicek said.

According to the incident report written by Zaijeck, “[her] legs and body were over the railing and she was leaning forward. I grabbed a hold of the rear of [her] pants and right ankle and pulled her to the rail and down to the ground.”

The victim was then placed into custody for her own safety and transported to a local hospital.

“We really want to talk jumpers down,” Zajieck said. “They usually give us the opportunity to talk with them. She didn’t give us a chance. She had it in her mind that she was going to jump.”

Zajieck said he was pleased with the teamwork between himself, McCall and Officer Josiah Mehl, who also responded to the incident.

“It’s just everyday life in police work,” Zaijeck said. “It just happened to be a day when everyone was on the page and it all worked out.”