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El Paso County Deputy risks life to save woman during a suicide attempt

Posted at 4:27 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 00:12:31-04

EL PASO COUNTY — El Paso County Deputy Ricardo Garcia only had seconds to decide how he was going to help a woman contemplating suicide at the bridge at south Academy Boulevard and Highway 115 just outside of Fort Carson last May.

"One (caller) said (the woman) is standing really close to a guard rail," said Garcia as he recalled the original calls made to 911 by bystanders. "The other person said (the woman) had one leg over the guard rail."

When talking with News5, he went over what the body-worn camera video from that day shows.

Garcia and another deputy were the first at the scene that morning back in May. The other deputy worked to block rush hour traffic below the bridge as Garcia worked to calm her down.

"I say, 'Hey, Deputy Garcia with the Sheriff's office, may I approach you?' " he said. "I don't want to rush up there, scare her to cause her to fall. We don't want anything like that so I'm just trying to stay calm myself to speak to her.”

Garcia said he knew from his crisis intervention training, that he had to build a rapport with her fast.

"I walked up to her, stood pretty close behind her, and just explained to her, 'You're important, what's going on, talk to me about what's going on, why are you feeling this way?' " he said. "She briefly told me a couple of things and then I asked her to step over the rail to talk to me and she refused."

As another deputy arrived to help, the scene quickly changed.

"As soon as he started walking to me I turned my head back to her, she decided to turn her body towards me and let her legs drop and at that time I grabbed her and lifted her over the guard rail," Garcia said.

Garcia's decision saved her life.

"The deputy said he was pretty much right behind me," Garcia said. "He said he was ready to grab the back of my shirt just in case I was to fall."

The whole scene unfolded in less than two minutes. After taking a breath to relax, he drove the woman to the hospital.

"She was thankful," he said. "She said, 'Thank you for catching me.' "

As Deputy Garcia walked her into the hospital, he was thankful knowing his mission to get her safely off that bridge was accomplished.

In the video, you can hear Garcia tell the woman, "I don't know if you'll remember our conversation but I’ll remember you." She replied, "I'll remember you."

"It's stressful," Garcia said. "It's stuff you still think about but it had a positive outcome and that's what matters."

Deputy Garcia's work did not stop there. He later referred the woman to what's called the "Beacon Unit" in the Sheriff's office. The Beacon Unit then follows up to offer other resources to help get her mental health on track.

Remember, if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, there is help available 24 hours a day. The number to dial for the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 988.

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