A suicidal man caused cars on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to come to a screeching halt after parking his white SUV in the middle of traffic Thursday. He then threatened to kill himself. After several hours of confusion and chaos, Charleston Police were able to get the situation under control and detain the individual.
Phillip DeClemente, 38, had backed up traffic for hours, not only on the bridge, but on Interstate 526, Highway 17 and Interstate 26, reported NBC. When reports rang out that DeClemente had stopped his vehicle for unknown reasons, police and first responders surrounded his car in the middle of the Ravenel Bridge.
DeClemente wrote messages on his SUV as a warning with phrases Game Over and Happy Now.
It was chaotic. The police were just swarming the area, said a man who was trapped in traffic John Newland, reported CBS. I feel bad for the guy and hope he's okay. It's been a crazy, chaotic afternoon.
Around 4:15 p.m., DeClemente decided to step on the gas and attempt to drive off the bridge. His car rammed into a concrete barrier, preventing from falling into the Cooper River, reported Charleston City Paper. Police quickly moved in, forced him out of the vehicle and arrested him.
It is unclear what DeClemente's motives were at this time. However, he did have a prior criminal record. In February 2011, he was charged and found guilty of two counts of stalking, reported the Charleston City Paper.
DeCelemente was former member of the Charleston County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad. He worked with diving units on search-and-rescue missions and missing person cases. During his time, he won several awards including the Life Saving Award in 2006, 2008 and 2009, reported the Charleston City Paper.
After he was detained, all northbound and southbound lanes on the Ravenel Bridge reopened.
I had to go get some material from North Charleston and I came over the bridge from Mount Pleasant, said Sparky Witte, according to CBS. And the sign said there was a wreck on the bridge...the traffic was already wall to wall.
Police, however, were grateful the event ended peacefully with no one hurt.
We're just thankful that it ended peacefully, said Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis.