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Trooper diffuses danger over I-4 | News

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Trooper diffuses danger over I-4
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PLANT CITY, Florida -- A state trooper helped stop a situation that could have endangered drivers on I-4.

It all started on Monday night, when drivers reported that a man was dangling from a bridge in Plant City. Local police agencies responded and called out from bullhorns on I-4 as State Trooper Ben Miller rushed to the Fritzke Bridge to help. That's when he says the man talked about wanting to kill himself.

"It would have been instantaneous death, not only for himself, but for the motoring public as well," Miller says.

This was Miller's first time ever responding to a situation like this. As the situation unfolded over a matter of minutes, a nearby traffic camera caught all the action.

If the man did fall 25 feet from the Fritzke Bridge onto I-4, he would have hit oncoming traffic traveling at 70 mph. That was a primary concern among agencies that responded. They even considered shutting down I-4, but the traffic camera video shows a few cars still driving westbound as police try to convince the man not to jump.

In the video, you can see Miller asking the man for a form of identification, both to identify him and possibly to distract him as well. About 30 seconds later, the man is briefly distracted by a bird making noises near the bridge. That's when Trooper Miller saw the opportunity to grab him off the ledge. 

"I like to think that I was lucky," says Miller. "Everybody in the Tampa Bay Regional Communications Center threw up papers like a shuttle landing and started applauding."

Miller credits pure instinct and his training with the Florida Highway Patrol for knowing what to do in this situation.

The man originally yelled at Miller for not allowing him to jump off the ledge. Hours later, that all changed.

"At the end, when I left the hospital, the man stuck out his hand and shook my hand and he said, 'Thank you trooper, for saving my life,'" Miller says. "I will never, ever forget that."

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