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RSM Deputies Grab Another Bridge Jumper, Pull Him to Safety

Standing on a ledge ready to jump, a man is tackled from behind and wrestled back onto the Tijeras Creek Bridge. It's the second time in 70 days Rancho Santa Margarita deputies grabbed someone on the other side of the railing.

For the second time in 10 weeks Orange County Sheriff deputies in Rancho Santa Margarita have grabbed a man and prevented him from jumping off a local bridge.

The latest incident took place Monday morning on Antonio Parkway near Canada Vista Park. With three deputies on one side of the suicidal 20-year-old, Dep. Felipe Martinez tackled him from behind and led the effort to pull him back onto the Tijeras Creek Bridge.

"It feels good," Martinez said. "That's what we're here to do, to serve the public. And when we're called to save people's lives, that's what we do."

For Martinez, who joined the force in 2005, it was his first such life-saving effort.

That's not the case with Dep. Mike Stout, who had a hand in on the Banderas Bridge on June 4.

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On Monday, Stout engaged the agitated man, who was yelling expletives at the deputies. The man and deputies had been on the bridge for about 20 minutes in a negotiation that included deputies Stout, Martinez, Dung Truong and Sgt. Mike Pixomatis. The last 10 minutes of the negotiation included the man's father, who called OCSD at 10:08 a.m. to report that his son had left their Rancho Santa Margarita home and threatened to jump off a bridge.

Patrol checks of the city's bridges turned up a man matching the description near the Tijeras Creek area. Deputies went into foot pursuit on southbound Antonio Parkway on the west side of the bridge; in an attempt to evade deputies, the man crossed all lanes of traffic to the east side of the bridge and stepped over the railing, his feet positioned on a narrow concrete ledge.

Stout, Truong and Pixomatis were about eight feet to the north of the man, with Martinez about eight feet to the south, according to Lt. Brian Schmutz, the city's chief of police services. The man's father arrived 10 minutes later, and the deputies inched their way to within about three feet. After 10 minutes of the father and son talking—but with the son refusing to listen and becoming increasingly agitated—Stout told the father to leave.

The despondent man took one foot off the ledge and held the railing with only one hand. He crouched, as if to jump. But while he was yelling at Stout, Martinez—who wrestled in high school—bolted for the man and embraced him in a bear hug from behind and pulled him back over the railing with assistance from Stout and Truong and tackled him to the ground.

The man, 5 feet 9 inches and 162 pounds, didn't receive any injuries though Martinez suffered abrasions to his right hand and knee.

"It looked like he was really going," said Martinez, who stands 6-2, 200 pounds. "Things just started getting too agitated. When the subject started arguing with Deputy Stout, I saw my opportunity."

Mayor Tony Beall said he was not surprised by the outcome, or its proximity to a similar incident that involved police heroism.

“Through the years our police force has developed a well-deserved reputation for excellence and commitment to our community, they’ve earned the trust of our residents, and this is just the latest example of this,” Beall said. “RSM is serviced by the bravest and best law enforcement has to offer. This is what they do. Our brave deputies have repeatedly shown they’re willing to risk their own lives to protect those they have sworn to serve.”

Juliovera August 14, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Nice work my friends good job
Mike Proctor August 14, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I just happen to be leaving my neighborhood when this was happening. I timed it perfect to witness the save by the deputies. It was such a relief when the officer tackled him to the ground, as I was certain the young man was going to jump,...Martin, your description and details were perfect. I hope the young man can find his way out of what ever pushed him this far.
Father of 3 August 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Your facts are very close. The original 911 call was just before 10 am. A close family friend found the boy walking down Antonio and called in the police. The boy was distraught after losing a job and girlfriend. Officer Pixomatis grabbed the boys from the right first and officer Martinez immediately from his left. Officer Troung from behind quickly jumped in to assist pulling him down to the sidewalk. The boys father was being held at the family home until police officers radioed for his appearance. Officer Stout held the father approx. 100 feet away from his boy. With all the background noise, the boy could not hear his father's pleas for his return, and never made any replies back. All in all, the officers did a perfect job. The boy was checked out at Mission Hospital and released to the authorities for further evaluation.
Debbie Perkins August 15, 2012 at 01:44 AM
So glad to read about outcomes like this one! Bravo, Deputies!! You are all amazing.
Matt Garvey August 15, 2012 at 07:58 AM
It's sad to think the only choice this young man thought he had was to jump. Hopefully he will be able to get the help he needs.
Martin Henderson (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 11:51 AM
@Father of 3—what's that picture you posted?
Father of 3 August 15, 2012 at 08:27 PM
No picture, have a small video from a cell phone.
Something Special Cateirng Inc. August 15, 2012 at 08:56 PM
What happened to the plans for the city to put some kind of "shelf" under the bridge to prevent any deaths from jumping off the bridge?
Father of 3 August 15, 2012 at 09:00 PM
good question. who knows the answer ?
Charles August 16, 2012 at 01:13 AM
I hope they were scrapped if it saves money (if indeed these plans even existed). Would prefer money not be spent that way.
Martin Henderson (Editor) August 16, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I contacted RSM city manager Jennifer Cervantez, who responded: "At present, there are no plans regarding any bridge improvements relating to preventing jumpers. Public Works staff had in the past explored measures taken by other jurisdictions, but no specific measure was identified or planned for as part of the Capital Improvement plan."
RSM rules August 16, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Charles, it's a shame, a human life isn't worth spending the money, in your opinion. I hope you don't have anyone special in your life get sick or have an accident. Wouldn't want you to waste your money !
Charles August 16, 2012 at 02:37 AM
You are 100% correct - too bad your point is completely irrelevant. In 2009 there were four suicides (out of 119 total deaths) in 92688 according to www.cdph.ca.gov. What would it cost to place suicide prevention barriers on every bridge providing suicide potential? Why stop there? Why not barricade all streets so no one would be able to commit suicide by jumping in front of a car? Where do you draw the line? Barriers should be erected to prevent people of reasonable mind from inadvertently or accidentally hurting themselves - and even that is open to interpretation and has budget limits.

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