5 Freeway Closed Nearly 4 Hours While Man Hangs Off Overpass Sign
BOYLE HEIGHTS — The 5 Freeway was shut in both directions in Boyle Heights due to police activity Friday afternoon.
“People out of their cars wondering what’s going on,” reported Stu Mundel in Sky9.
The incident, first reported around 3:30 p.m., occurred in East LA at just before Olympic Boulevard. A man was taken into custody around 7:15 p.m., authorities said.
“Right now, the 5 is a parking lot,” Mundel reported in the midafternoon rush. On the northbound side, motorists were backed up with no option to exit.
“Get on the phone and tell everyone you know to avoid the 5, “Mundel reported.
An unidentified man was standing on a freeway sign for almost the entire four hours.
Officials deployed a large cushion under the sign in the event the man fell or jumped.
The southbound 5 was hit the hardest, Mundel said. There were cars stuck behind a police barricade for almost the entire ordeal.
The CHP was trying to aid some of those stuck riders by making U-turns and exiting on the nearby Lorena Avenue off-ramp.
Other freeways also were affected by motorists being backed up including the 10 eastbound and the 60 in both directions.
By 7:15, scores of vehicles were still stuck, in a group, as the CHP worked at turning them around.
All lanes were reopened by 7:30 p.m.
CBS2’s Rachel Kim said sheriff’s deputies and LA County firefighters eventually made a bold move and brought the man down safely.
“He’s not accused of any crime really. He’s just a person in crisis that needs to have some mental health care,” said Sgt. Harry Drucker, a LASD crisis negotiator.
The nearly four hours it took to get the man down stopped traffic for miles along the 5 and nearby freeways and created gridlock on surface streets, as well.
“It’s been horrible,” said one motorist.
“I’m trying to get south, and you can’t go anywhere,” said another.
Rush-hour traffic on this Friday night came to an absolute standstill.
With nowhere to go, some drivers occupied themselves by posting pictures on social media.
Others couldn’t wait any longer for their evening meal, so they just set up a taco stand right on the freeway.
While some tried to make the best of the shutdown, most drivers weren’t happy, and they made their feelings known.
Still, first-responders explained they were just making sure everyone was safe, including the public.
“Our priorities are life, property and environment. The air cushion was in case the person fell. We kept the freeway shut off throughout the incident to maintain safety for the firefighters,” LA County Fire Department Capt. Brian Johnson said.
The man was taken into custody and was admitted to a hospital on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.