A South Pasadena police officer was credited with saving the life of a 12-year-old girl who was clinging to a local bridge and threatening to jump from it on Tuesday night, authorities said.
Officer Chris Perez was on routine patrol in the area of York Bridge and San Pascual Avenue at approximately 6:50 p.m. when he was flagged down by a group of concerned citizens who directed him to a suicidal child, a news release from the South Pasadena Police Department stated.
At the time, she was hanging onto the bridge’s ledge with one hand, dangling approximately 80 feet over asphalt, according to the release.
The child was described as “sobbing and desperate” by police.
Perez stopped his car on the bridge and walked calmly over to the area and began speaking to her, officials said in the release.
While talking with the girl, Perez learned she was from a group home in Los Angeles and had fled the facility “for severe emotional reasons, wanting to die,” the release stated.
She told the officer the group home “wasn’t treating her right,” Perez told KTLA in an interview.
The officer then asked the girl if he could approach and speak with her. After she gave him permission, he “developed a trusting communication” with the child and calmed her down, the release said.
As the two continued to speak, the girl agreed to let him come closer. Perez then asked her if he could help her back over the railing and back to safety.
Police said she told him she was frightened and needed assistance.
“She was too scared to climb back over, so I leaned over the railing … had her grab my hand, and then I grabbed the rest of her wrist, and she pretty much bear hugged me so that I could pull her back over to the other side.” he told KTLA.
“Immediately after I pulled her over, then that’s when she started to break down and was crying,” Perez said.
The officer then sat with the child on the sidewalk and gave her water, police said. He then called a local fire department for help after learning she had an ankle injury.
Perez, who has worked for the department for about year, said there were many thoughts going through his mind as she clung to the side of the bridge.
“I was scared, because the last thing I wanted her to do was to jump, and the last thing I wanted her to do was to try to jump for me, and me not being able to catch her,” he told KTLA. “But at the same time, my main concern was just getting her to safety.”
The 12-year-old was undergoing a medical evaluation, according to police. But, they added, she was safe because of Perez’s actions.