Some might call A.J. Castle the man who saved Mount Pleasant Monday morning.
For more than four hours, fuming motorists were held hostage by a man threatening to jump off the Ravenel Bridge. Police and rescue workers closed down two lanes and then shut southbound traffic down altogether as they tried to talk the man down. Cars backed up for miles.
Then, a police officer arrived bearing a secret weapon — a steaming wheel of pepperoni pie made by Castle, general manager at Andolini’s Pizza in Mount Pleasant.
Within minutes of the officer sliding open the box on the hood of his vehicle, the would-be jumper surrendered to police and was carted off for treatment. And for hundreds of weary drivers, traffic mercifully began to flow once again.
Police haven’t officially credited Castle with saving the day, but his customers apparently have made up their minds about his contribution.
“Dude, your pizza is saving lives this morning,” one man said as he arrived for lunch at the Coleman Boulevard restaurant.
Castle, 30, wasn’t sure what to make of all the attention.
The restaurant hadn’t even opened when police called in their order around 10:15 a.m. An officer told Castle that police were “doing some work” on the bridge and needed a pie. The officer later confided that police were dealing with a possible jumper.
Castle whipped up a standard pepperoni and had it boxed and ready by the time the officer came to claim it. Castle gave it to him at no charge.
“I figured he was doing a good deed, I might as well do him a good deed as well,” he said.
Castle didn’t think much more of it until a customer came in and showed him a photo on postandcourier.com of the officer offering Castle’s creation to the despondent man. Soon, he seemed to be the center of attention as word of the incident spread.
“He doesn’t just throw pies, he saves lives,” co-worker Greg Hunt said.
Dusted with flour and tossing more pies that afternoon, Castle wasn’t quite ready to call himself a hero.
“I’ve been here for nine years and nothing like this has ever happened,” he said with a grin. “But I’m not going to take credit for what happened. I was just doing my job.”
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.