Traffic disrupted as man climbs 80-foot tree in Seattle

AP News
Posted: Mar 23, 2016 1:10 AM
Traffic disrupted as man climbs 80-foot tree in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) — Police have been trying to coax a man out of an 80-foot tall sequoia tree in downtown Seattle after he climbed nearly to the top Tuesday morning, disrupting traffic.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, the unidentified man remained in the tree. He scrambled down toward the bottom just before 9 p.m. but soon made his way back up, snapping branches along the way.

Seattle police say someone called 911 after 11 a.m. Tuesday to report a man in the conifer next to Macy's department store. Police say when authorities arrived, the man refused to speak with them and threw an apple at medics.

"Issue appears to be between the man and the tree," Seattle police tweeted.

By Tuesday afternoon, police said traffic was being tied up as officials closed nearby roads as a precaution.

"It is quite a spectacle, honestly," police spokesman Patrick Michaud told The Seattle Times.

Michaud said police want to make sure the man can get down without hurting himself or someone else and added that rushing it could create a dangerous situation. Police have said he appears to be suffering from a crisis and has been yelling intermittently.

The incident has attracted onlookers and a local TV station has had shown the incident live all day. It's also grown in popularity on social media with new Twitter accounts dedicated to it and the hashtag #manintree trending on Twitter and Facebook.

Negotiators with assistance from the Seattle Fire Department were on a fire truck ladder still trying to talk the man down from the tree at 6 p.m.

The man, appearing disheveled with a large beard, longer hair and a red knit hat he dropped during the day, has also ripped multiple branches from the tree and tossed them at the ground and at negotiators, who caught many of them.

Seattle Department of Transportation officials will review the health of the tree, believed to have been there since the 1970s, once the incident is resolved, police said.