Officer Who Rescued Northridge Quake Victims Dies

Joseph Jordan was a monk turned cop, a man fellow police officers described as “meticulous and extremely intelligent.” But former residents of the Northridge Meadows apartment building probably remember Jordan best for the way he rescued injured neighbors after the 1994 earthquake.

The 55-year-old Jordan died Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack as he drove down a Northridge street. His death left former colleagues reminiscing about a man they said represented some of the qualities all officers should strive to achieve.

“He was a very methodical and articulate man,” said Sgt. Russ Lyons, who worked closely with Jordan for years. “He had a sense of humor and wit that was unique.”

Jordan, a 24-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was driving southbound on Tampa Avenue just south of Devonshire Boulevard about 9 p.m. when he apparently suffered a heart attack, Officer Bill Mulvihill said.


Jordan’s car spun out of control and hit the curb before smashing into a wall.

Paramedics rushed him to Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he suffered another massive heart attack and died a short time later.

On Jan. 17, 1994, Jordan was awakened by the rumbling in his apartment building. He knocked down walls to get to his wife. When she was safely outside, Jordan began pulling his neighbors out of the flattened apartment building.

At his retirement in 1995, Jordan received the Police Star--given to officers who demonstrate exceptional bravery--for his rescues at Northridge Meadows. After losing his apartment in the earthquake, Jordan moved with his wife to San Fernando.

Before becoming a police officer, Jordan studied to become a monk, according to one of his former supervisors. “It might seem like a radical change, but I don’t think it was,” said Lt. Bob Normandy.

“Like police officers, you take orders and wear uniforms. And most of all, both want to help people. Joe was a child of the ‘60s and just wanted to improve society.”