The 21-year-old woman was clutching a stuffed animal, ready to jump off the Interstate-5 overpass and into traffic below on Carlsbad Village Drive Tuesday night.
California Highway Patrol Officers Jason Hughes and Kerry Comphel rushed to the overpass and talked her into stepping off the ledge. She was slowly coming towards them, when she stopped and looked over the edge.
“We actually took off and ran toward her,” Hughes said. “At that point, she dove over the side.”
“That’s when I was able to grab her right shoulder before she crested over the wall,” Hughes said. “It was more like mindset, we’re not going to give up, we're not going to let her go.”
Cell phone video taken by a driver in stopped traffic below shows the woman dangling over the bridge, the officers holding on to her.
“We were trying to hold on. And do whatever we could do to get her over the wall and hold on as long as we could, because we knew there was units responding,” Hughes said.
“What I was thinking the whole time is, I wasn’t going to let go,” Hughes said.
For Officer Comphel, it was personal.
“It really hits home. My brother killed himself when he was 17, or 18, I was 17 at the time.”
She was going to live.
“Luckily, Carlsbad police was there to help us because we were kind of at a standstill, trying to get her over the sign and the wall,” Hughes said.
Two Carlsbad officers helped the Hughes and Comphel pull her to safety.
“Their efforts are nothing shy of heroic,” Cpt. Amy Mangan said. “It was harrowing, harrowing incident they went through last night.”
Comphel rode with her in the ambulance and told her his story.
“She was very thankful,” Comphel said.
The bond is still there.
That stuffed animal she was holding was also familiar. It was the Disney character Stitch.
“It got ruined,” Comphel said “Basically, my son has the same one so I brought it here we are going to go to the hospital give her that.”
His 17-year-old son wanted to donate it, he said.
Mangan said she is going to nominate the officers for the CHP Medal of Valor.
SUICIDE PREVENTION (24-HOUR HOTLINES)
San Diego County Crisis Line: 1-888-724-7240
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255