EAST LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KABC) --All lanes of the 5 Freeway were closed for three hours near Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles Friday because of a man standing on an overpass.
The southbound and northbound lanes were closed around 4 p.m. as Los Angeles sheriff's deputies and CHP officers dealt with a person clinging to a sign attached to the Downey Road overpass, just west of the 710 Freeway transition.
Authorities were unsure if the man was a tagger or a "jumper." The man, who's name had not been released, told authorities that he wanted to go smoke a cigarette and that's where he ended up.
A rescue air cushion was inflated underneath the overpass. Firefighters cut a hole in the fence on the overpass and wanted the man to climb out on his own, but he was unwilling.
Two rescue personnel attached to safety lines eventually forced the man through the hole and he was taken into custody at about 7 p.m.
Both southbound and northbound lanes were reopened around 7:30 p.m.
The three-hour closure created a traffic nightmare during the Friday afternoon commute. Commuters were seen getting out of their cars and walking on the freeway. One driver set up a table to play poker during the delay, which was first reported to be a taco stand.
Northbound traffic was diverted to the northbound 710 Freeway. Southbound traffic was diverted off at Ditman Avenue. The transition road from the northbound 710 Freeway to the northbound 5 Freeway was temporarily closed.
Vehicles caught within the closure area were turned around and led off the freeway. Drivers on surface streets were urged to use Olympic and Whittier boulevards as alternates.
The man is not facing criminal charges, but was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.