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CHP officer was in 'the right place at the right time'

Adriaan Garcia saved a suicidal woman who threatened to jump onto the freeway.

Posted: March 25, 2008 2:11 a.m.
Updated: May 26, 2008 5:01 a.m.

CHP Officer Adriaan Garcia from the Newhall area station stopped a woman from jumping off the Highway 14 crossover near Templin Highway.

 
It was just another Wednesday night.

Officer Adriaan Garcia was on patrol, responding to a call of a vehicle partially blocking a freeway lane.

Headed north on Interstate 5, the nearly three-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol was expecting to find a motorist who'd run out of gas or had broken down.

Driving onto the upper crossover bridge near Templin Highway, he saw a white car parked in one of the lanes and a woman walking along the bridge.

He used his cruiser's P.A. to advise her to stay out of the roadway.

Garcia was not prepared for what she did next.

The 37-year-old Modesto woman climbed on top of the railing, sitting precariously several stories above the freeway below.

It was 6:58 p.m. on March 12.

Caught off guard, Garcia froze for a split second before getting out of his car.

The woman said she wanted to kill herself.

"I've never felt so helpless," Garcia said. "I was pleading with her, 'Please don't jump.' She wouldn't look at me; she wouldn't acknowledge me."

The way she kept squatting and moving led Garcia to believe she was trying to calculate the jump, as if her mind was made up but her body was unwilling.

When another car pulled up on the bridge, Garcia said he was able to direct the woman's attention away from him.

He took his chance and ran up to her, grabbed her and pulled her away from the edge. She didn't put up a struggle, he said.

"I've never had anything like that happen," Garcia said. "That was a pretty intense moment."

In the heat of the moment, he said his actions came down to "trying to just be another human being" - concerned for both the safety of the woman on the bridge, and the safety of any motorists passing below.

Officer John Lutz of the Newhall area CHP station said Friday that Garcia is being recommended for the CHP's medal of valor.

It would be an honor, Garcia said, but he added: "I don't do this job for the medals.

"If tomorrow they told me (I'm not getting the medal), it wouldn't stop me from doing my job."

As for the woman, she was taken to Olive View Medical Center and put on a 72-hour hold for observation.
Lutz said what Garcia did was a case of "being in the right place at the right time."

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