Police are crediting a South Pasadena officer with saving the life of a 12-year-old girl who was threatening to jump from a bridge on Tuesday night. The officer, Chris Perez, was on his routine patrol in the area of the bridge the 12-year-old was on, between York Bridge and San Pascual Avenue.
Around 6:50 p.m. Perez was waved down by concerned citizens who alerted him of the suicidal child, according to KTLA 5. When Officer Perez arrived on the scene, the girl was dangling by one hand over the bridge's ledge, which was 80 feet above the asphalt below. Police described the girl as sobbing and desperate.
When the officer noticed the child, he calmly walked over to her and began speaking with her. Perez was able to find out that the girl was from a group in the Los Angeles area and had fled the home "for several emotional reasons, wanting to die." The girl also told Officer Perez that the home she was in "wasn't treating her right."
Perez was reportedly able to approach the 12-year-old and speak with her personally. He was able to develop trusting communication with her, which eventually led the Pasadena officer to calm the emotional girl down. The more Perez spoke with the young girl, the closer he was able to get to her until he asked her if it was alright if he could help her back over the railing and back to safety. The girl informed Perez that she was scared and needed help.
Perez spoke with KTLA to make the following statement.
"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. Immediately after I pulled her over, then that's when she started to break down and was crying."
Perez said he had a lot of thoughts running through his mind as she dangled off the side of the bridge.
"I was scared, because the last thing I wanted her to do was 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. But at the same time, my main concern was just getting her to safety."
Chris Perez is a rookie of the Pasadena Police force, who has only been an officer for one year. When he was flagged down by bystanders, Perez was just getting into the first hour of his shift. Even with everything Officer Perez did for the young Pasadena girl, he will not call himself a hero and is uncomfortable with others doing so, but he said he was humbled that his parents (his dad is an officer, as well) took notice to his bravery.
Perez told CBS Los Angeles that he couldn't relate to the situation the girl was going through and doesn't have children of his own but does have nieces and nephews.
"I do have nephews and nieces, one who is seven, the other who just turned two. So I can't relate, that, oh my Lord, this young individual, this juvenile, is on the other side [on the bridge] what could possibly be going wrong in your life to make you want to do something like this?"
Perez added that he knew he did right by his parents after they called him a hero.
[Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]