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Caught on tape: Freeway overpass rescue

August 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was a dangerous rescue caught on tape as law enforcement officers risked their own lives to save a woman dangling from a freeway overpass. The young woman was on a ledge 50 feet above the Golden State Freeway. When CHP and Sheriff's deputies couldn't talk her down, they had to go out and get her.This all played out on the Alicia Parkway overpass on Sunday night. Two Sheriff's deputies and one CHP officer scrambled to save this woman. Dramatic videotape shows the woman clinging to the chain-link fence of the freeway overpass, content to jump to her death, right into freeway traffic 50 feet below.

Watch video of the freeway overpass rescue caught on tape

Deputy Brian Gunsolley was on the other side of the fence. "She was gripping onto the fence, and she closed her eyes and leaned back, and she was ready to let go. That's when I grabbed hold of her fingertips," said Deputy Gunsolley.

As family members tried to talk the woman back to safety, CHP Officer Bob Rand and Deputy Mark Worley made their move. They shimmied along the bridge's 2-inch ledge, risking their own lives, after all southbound lanes of the freeway were closed.

"I came out, hand over hand, using the top of the fence and on the cement rung here, and came out over the freeway and we grabbed her arm," said Officer Rand.

The 22-year-old woman, upset over a recent breakup, continued to refuse rescue, saying she wanted to die.

"She was trying to get out of our grip," said Deputy Gunsolley. "She wanted to drop."

At one point, the woman's feet slipped from the ledge and her legs dangled over the freeway. Deputy Gunsolley then climbed over the fence.

Officer Rand said without two people holding her, they would have lost her.

"I started to lose a little bit of grip because her feet were dangling," said Officer Rand.

"She was slipping out of our grip, and it was a pretty hopeless feeling to be there and not being able to save her," said Deputy Gunsolley.

At the last moment, firefighters arrived with a ladder-truck, and they moved in with a bucket.

"And they go behind her and grabbed her just as her hands and fingers were starting to slip from my grip," said Deputy Gunsolley.

"I've seen some with worse outcomes, so I was glad that this one came out good," said Officer Rand.

Officer Rand said if he had to do it all over again, he'd do it. The woman was rescued and taken to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

 

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