Dracut dispatcher, officer team up to prevent a tragedy

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DRACUT — Police officials are crediting a police dispatcher and a rookie officer with saving the life of a 45-year-old Lowell man who tried to hang himself along the banks of the Merrimack River on May 25.

Dispatcher William Hibbard received a call from state police, who reported taking a cell-phone call from a man who was threatening to commit suicide in the vicinity of Route 110 near the Methuen-Dracut line. State troopers and officers from both communities could not find the man, but Hibbard was able to trace the cell-phone number and pinpoint the location near Griffin Brook Drive in Methuen.

They still couldn’t locate the man, but Officer Brian Woods located the vehicle and walked farther into a wooded area near the river. He found the man hanging from a tree by some fabric that had been draped over a branch.

Woods grabbed the man and lifted him up to relieve pressure from his neck. He was able to grab his knife and cut through the fabric, releasing the man, who was unconscious but still breathing.

“Officer Woods detected shallow breathing and immediately called the paramedics, who were moments away,” Deputy Police Chief David Chartrand said. “A few minutes longer, and it would have turned out much differently. Officer Woods and dispatcher Hibbard stayed with it. They didn’t give up, and they found him in time.”