Umpire From Oak Lawn Saves Woman Who Tried To Jump Off Pittsburgh Bridge

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Major League Baseball umpire who grew up and lives in the southwest suburbs is being hailed as a hero, after saving a woman’s life before a game in Pittsburgh this week.

John Tumpane, 34, was jogging on the Roberto Clemente Bridge just hours before Wednesday night’s game at PNC Park when he saw a woman climb over the railing, apparently to kill herself.

“I just approached her, and I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ She said, ‘Oh, I just want to get a better look from this side of the rail,’” he said. “I just kind of put my arm on her shoulder, and I said, ‘Oh no, why don’t you come back on this side? You know, it’s the same view over here.’”

Tumpane said when the woman told him “No, I’m good,” he knew she wasn’t just getting a better view.

“She said, ‘Just let me go, it’ll be better off that way,’ and I said, ‘No, come on, let me buy you lunch. Why don’t you come back on this side, and we’ll talk things over. It’ll all work out,’” Tumpane said.

Tumpane — and then later a couple other people — then held on to the woman until more help arrived.

“A couple times slipped her legs off the ledge and became dead weight, and I just was thinking that this has got to be a good ending, and not a bad ending,” Tumpane said after the game.

His grandmother, Kathryn Tokars, said he grew up in Oak Lawn and went to St. Laurence High School in Burbank. She said it’s just like her grandson to stop and help someone.

“He showed just the type of person he is,” she said. “He comes from a family that would be just indicative of the situation. He’s a caring person, a Christian person, and just an all-around good guy, a lot of personality.”

Tumpane said after police and paramedics eventually helped bring the woman to safety, he promised her he would never forget her.

“This was an unbelievable day, and I’m glad to say that she can have another day with us, and I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.

Trumpane joined the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Thursday and provided more details.

“She told me I would just forget her and no one wants to help her,” Trumpane said on 670. “I just went back to her and said, ‘I didn’t forget you. All of these people here care about you.’ We’re glad she’s on this side (of the bridge).

“I just tried to wipe the tears from her face and just tell her it was going to be all right, that she’s in a better place now on this side than that side. She was just very emotional.”

Trumpane then was the home-plate umpire for the Pirates-Rays game that evening. The backdrop of PNC Park from that position and angle is the Roberto Clemente Bridge.

“You look at it the whole game,” Tumpane said. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind throughout the game. Thankfully, it was a positive memory of that bridge and not one that would be a tough one to live with.”

St. Laurence High School said in a Facebook post the school has never been prouder of Tumpane.

“We’ve been proud of MLB umpire and Viking alum John Tumpane ’01 for a long time now, but never as proud as we are now,” the school said. “When he came across a tough situation, he did the right thing and displayed true character and leadership. That’s what being a Viking is all about.”

Watch & Listen LIVE