A man waiting to undergo a psychiatric observation left a Mount Clemens hospital, stripped, swam across a river, and climbed up a 200-foot-tall cellphone antenna before being coaxed down, according to firefighters.
The incident happened at about 9:30 a.m. when the man walked out of the emergency room at McLaren Macomb hospital. It ended a short time later when he surrendered to authorities and was transported back to the hospital.
A team of first responders including the Mount Clemens Fire Department and Macomb County Sheriff’s deputies used patience in dealing with the subject because they didn’t know how he would otherwise react, said fire Capt. Nick Candela.
“We kept our distance and played it cool,” Candela said. “He kept climbing down a little further every couple of minutes, so we were fortunate to not have to risk going up in our ladder truck.”
The episode started out with a 911 call from the hospital’s security personnel advising that a patient had fled the medical facility on Harrington Street, east of Groesbeck Highway (M-97).
Witnesses told deputies and fire personnel they watched as the patient fully disrobed and swam across the Clinton River. He then climbed over fences and through back yards.
Once he was in the area of Church Street and South Rose, near the Phoenix Stone Company, he climbed onto an antenna tower and went about halfway up.
Candela said a Sheriff’s deputy used a megaphone to communicate with the subject.
“He climbed down on his own, which is good because I don’t think the bucket on our ladder truck would reach him,” Candela said.
Once he came down, firefighters covered him with a blanket and secured him to a Medstar Ambulance gurney to be taken back to the hospital.
Candela said the Macomb County Technical Rescue team was advised of the situation in case they had to be mobilized. He said Mount Clemens firefighters are trained to climb high buildings, adding it’s a risky venture.
“Especially when you have an individual who is not in a right state of mind,” the fire captain said. “We did have a plan that included us being belted and strapped into our bucket, but you never know what’s going to happen when you get up there.”