New Jersey

Shirtless Climber in Custody After Shutting Down Upper Level of George Washington Bridge

It was the second intrusion on the bridge this week

What to Know

  • A climber on one of the New Jersey towers of the George Washington Bridge closed the bridge's upper level Friday
  • Earlier this week, immigrant rights protesters invaded the upper level and blocked traffic at rush hour
  • Friday's incident again caused extensive delays on the bridge, a major regional artery

One man was taken into custody after scaling a tower on the George Washington Bridge Friday morning, shutting down the upper level of the span at the height of rush hour for the second time this week. 

Traffic cameras appeared to show someone climbing one of the towers on the New Jersey side of the bridge shortly after 8:30 a.m. Chopper 4 later showed emergency crews take the man, who was not wearing a shirt, into custody. At least half a dozen law enforcement personnel surrounded the man on a bridge landing as emergency vehicles swarmed the roadway below. 

The NYPD described the man, later identified as Alberto Hernandez, of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, as an emotionally disturbed jumper, and tweeted dramatic images of ESU and police officers negotiating him off a ledge to safety. 

Port Authority police officer Brian Ahern said the man was "in probably a really dark part of his life right now, and he didn't know what to do and where to go." 

NYPD Det. Raul Gonzalez, a member of the ESU, said the man "informed me that he lost his job, he's in danger of losing his house." 

With Hernandez inches away from the wall, 600 feet above the Hudson River, NYPD Det. Brandon Watson, safely tethered, moved in for the life-saving grab. 

Dramatic Images Show NYPD Bring Bridge Scaler to Safety

The upper levels of the span were shut down for about 40 minutes, the Port Authority said; the lower levels remained open. By 9:30 a.m., at least one or two lanes of traffic appeared to be moving again, creeping by the swarm of emergency vehicles, but delays topped 90 minutes.

Hernandez was charged with interference with transportation, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

"These are the most dangerous rescues we can perform at such a high elevation and such a small platform," said NYPD Deputy Chief Vincent Giordano.

The delays Friday marked the second time this week an intruder blocked traffic on the upper level of the bridge - one of the region's most important arteries - during rush hour. 

Both sides of the upper level of the George Washington Bridge were closed Friday morning by what appeared to be an intruder on the span, officials say.

The inbound upper level of the George Washington Bridge was closed by an immigrant rights protest Wednesday morning, creating a traffic nightmare at the height of rush hour. Ten people were arrested in that case. 

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