Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

July 27, 2017

Pitt Police Officer Commended for Saving a Life

Pitt Police Officer Mario Devine

Pitt Police Officer Mario Devine

Pitt Police Officer Mario Devine was driving home on June 21 when he spotted a woman walking on the opposite side of the Hulton Bridge, which crosses the Allegheny River between Oakmont and Harmar Township. He thought something was amiss – the bridge lane she was walking in lacks a sidewalk. Then he saw her step over a barrier toward the ledge.

It was 8:15 p.m. and Devine was already out of uniform, since he had just played with the Pitt Police team in a University softball league game. He drove to the Harmar Township end of the bridge and spotted two men who told him the woman had walked by them a moment ago and said she intended to commit suicide.

In his two and a half years on the force, Devine had never encountered such a situation. But he had taken Allegheny County’s Crisis Intervention Team training, which helps police officers communicate better in a crisis and find resources for those with mental illness, addictions or other immediate dangers.

He knew from this training that his main goal was to keep the woman talking. “You want to form a bond with that person, find common ground, find out what the real issue is,” Devine said. “You don’t want to be right in their personal space; you want to be at a comfortable, safe distance.”

Driving back across the bridge, Devine stopped and identified himself to the woman, then began calmly speaking with her.

“It was a very close situation,” he added, “and it’s tough to handle the right way.”

But when a relative of the woman arrived and a conversation with that person ensued, Devine said he decided to act. He quickly grabbed the woman and pulled her to safety on the bridge. He held her there until Oakmont police arrived.

Devine has no memory of the emotions he was experiencing during the incident. “I couldn’t even tell you,” he said. “Everything happened so fast.” He estimates that the encounter took perhaps four minutes. Afterward, he said, “I felt she was going to get the help she deserved now. She was obviously going through something and I was happy to see her be pointed in the right direction.”

Ted Fritz, associate vice chancellor for public safety and emergency preparedness, said that Devine’s actions are “a tangible example of being a caring University of Pittsburgh employee, the kind of person that makes Pitt a special place.”

A recent rescue of a woman from the Roberto Clemente Bridge by a Major League Baseball umpire was duly celebrated publically. The fast-thinking actions of the umpire and Devine were similar, though Devine remarked that his actions were simply part of his responsibility as a law enforcement officer.

“I wear the badge,” he noted. “This is what I signed up for. This is just part of my job – it doesn’t matter if I’m in uniform or not.”


Marty Levine,, 412-758-4859

Leave a Reply