, Salem, MA

Local News

October 7, 2008

Man rescued from church roof

Beverly fire chief: 'I thought he was going to jump a couple of times'

BEVERLY — A Beverly firefighter crawled on his stomach across the peaked roof of a church to save a man who appeared ready to jump to the ground 50 feet below.

Capt. Peter O'Connor reached out and grabbed Roberto Yapor by the belt as Yapor began to step over the side of a ladder that firefighters had raised.

"He started to make a motion with his foot," O'Connor said. "I scooted along and grabbed his belt."

The dramatic rescue took place in downtown Beverly around 2:15 p.m. in front of more than 100 onlookers and dozens of rescue personnel, as traffic crawled by on Cabot Street. An apparently distraught Yapor had climbed onto the roof of the Memorial United Methodist Church at the Corner of Cabot and Dane streets and was there for about 45 minutes.

Beverly police identified Yapor as a 50-year-old man from Beverly and said he had been arrested on Sept. 20 for a third drunken-driving offense. He was taken by ambulance to Beverly Hospital and will be charged with vandalism to the church, police said.

Cynthia Ramsdell, who was helping to prepare for Saturday's rummage sale at the church, said she knows Yapor from her work with homeless people. She described him as "very quiet and respectful" but said he was also "very depressed."

"He used to come here for supper, but I hadn't seen him in a while," she said.

Beverly fire Chief Richard Pierce said Yapor was on a lower roof of the church when firefighters arrived and was trying to climb to the higher roof. Two firefighters and a police officer climbed the ladder truck's aerial ladder to try to talk him down, "but he was definitely intent on making that higher roof," Pierce said. "He was tearing shingles off and clawing his way up."

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