ORANGE COUNTY, CA -- In a scene that might have been dreamed up for a Bruce Willis action movie, an Orange County, Calif. deputy saved a 17-year-old boy from jumping off a bridge in a suicide attempt Monday.
With the boy on the outside of a retention fence on the Banderas Bridge that spans the California 241 toll road, Rancho Santa Margarita Sheriff Dep. Tim Africano balanced himself over the top of the fence and grabbed the boy by the arm before he could jump.
The boy, perched on a ledge just inches wide, then went limp in an effort to break free of Africano's one-handed grasp.
From that point on, Africano held on for dear life—until two other deputies arrived in their police cruisers to assist.
Finally, with deputies Dustin Fike and Mike Stout holding onto the boy from atop the fence—Stout grabbing an arm and Fike some clothing—Africano lifted the boy by the waistband to the top of the fence. At that point, they were about eight feet above the bridge, which is about 40 feet above the highway.
The boy didn't make it easy, either. Deputies asked him to help climb the fence, but he refused, instead putting the entire onus of the rescue on the biceps of the officers.
The incident was over before Orange County Fire Authority Station 10 could shut down the freeway in case the teen, or the officers, fell onto cars or into traffic lanes where the speed limit is 65 mph.
"I'm just glad I was there to help," Africano said. "I was just doing my job."
Africano may have shrugged off his effort, but his boss, Lt. Brian Schmutz, wouldn't and neither would a couple of witnesses.
- Read more from the Rancho Santa Margarita Patch here.