Man rescued after spending 4 hours atop old bridge pier in Fredericton

Fire officials in Fredericton say a young man is safe after spending four hours on an old bridge pier in the St. John River.

Platoon Captain Steve Fraser of the Fredericton Fire Department says the man climbed onto one of the old Carleton Street Bridge piers around 11 a.m. Saturday.

"The parents of the person in question arrived, describing him as an autistic 18-year-old," says Fraser. "They suggested any attempt to force the teenager down would likely result in a combative situation."

Fraser says the man did not appear to be in distress, but there was concern for his safety, as well as that of first responders.

"He was up on the pier between 20 to 30 feet high from the water," says Fraser. "The base of the pier and immediate surrounding area is actually very shallow, with concrete and large rocks just below the surface of the water."

Fraser says the fire department deployed its marine unit in order to make contact with the man, and even brought his mother out to assist in talking him down.

When that didn't work, Fraser says they reached out to Bill Cannata, a Boston-area firefighter who developed a specialized program to help first responders deal with victims who have autism.

The situation ended happily when Fraser says the man slid down the pier directly to the fire department's boat below, receiving only minor scrapes.

The nearby pedestrian walkway across Sainte Anne's Point Drive was closed to keep onlookers away.