With the promise of a hug, a woman who recognized an apparently suicidal man from church talked him down from a 160-foot radio tower in Hollywood after the spectacle stopped rush-hour traffic and jammed Sunset Boulevard for hours Wednesday.
"I told him I promised to give him a hug, and he came down," Anita McMillan Murphy said.
A 55-year-old man climbed the KTLA tower on Sunset Boulevard just before rush hour and brought traffic to a screeching halt just west of the 101 Freeway.
Sunset Boulevard was closed beginning at 4:45 p.m. between El Centro and Van Ness avenues as a man in a green shirt and white shorts climbed a massive tower and refused to get down.
The Los Angeles Police Department diverted traffic as firefighters set up large air cushions at the base of the tower.
The man climbed up and down the tall tower while smoking some type of tobacco pipe and fiddling with a cellphone.
The high-traffic area remained closed for about three hours, but the man finally came down after Murphy began communicating with him from the ground.
She said she knew the man she calls "Charles" from First Baptist Church of Hollywood. Murphy said he must have recognized her blue hair.
"I explained to him that nothing’s hopeless," Murphy said. "I said, 'It's too high for me to come up, but if you come down I'll give you a hug.' And he said, 'I trust you.'"
As crisis negotiators moved in, Murphy went with them.
The man was taken into custody, but before he got into the ambulance, Murphy delivered on her promise.
"He teared up and said, 'Thank you, and I want my hug.' So I got my hug," Murphy said.
It wasn’t clear how the man was able to get to the tower which is on KTLA’s secure lot. He was not a KTLA employee.
He will not face criminal charges and was undergoing a mental health evaluation Wednesday night. Murphy said she invited him to return to church after he is released from the hospital.
City News Service contributed to this report.