Hours before heading off on a four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend in 2002, Sheriff's Deputy Cole Speer found himself pursuing a suicidal woman on Angeles Crest Highway. The woman had a gun, her husband said when he called the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station to report his wife's plans to commit suicide. And the woman had the gun in her hand as she stood in front of her truck parked near the railing at the Narrows Bridge on Angeles Forest Highway.
Speer had a plan: If the woman dropped the gun, he could run after her and stop her from jumping off the 185-foot-high bridge. And he did, grabbing onto the despondent woman's left wrist as she let go of the railing. He held her-kicking and flailing and nearly pulling him over the edge-until Deputies Joel Broumley, Rodger Burt, Glen Marcus, Ruth Mikelopoulos and Craig Wiggins reached through the railing and helped pull the woman to safety.
For the life-saving effort, Sheriff Lee Baca at a ceremony Wednesday presented Speer with the Medal of Valor, the department's highest award, and gave the Medal for Meritorious Conduct to Broumley, Burt, Marcus, Mikelopoulos and Wiggins.
The woman, a mother of three in her early 30s, was intent on taking her own life. But, Speer said, "We stopped that, and it seems like she's doing OK now, from what I understand."
Station Capt. Tim Peters, held praise for the deputies involved in the Nov. 27, 2002, incident, five of whom are currently under his watch.
"That was a very high-risk situation to be involved in," Peters said. "They really risked their lives in order to accomplish that feat. It really took a lot of courage to act toward that. Also a real respect for human life."
More than 700 people attended the awards ceremony, where some 35 other deputies and reserve deputies were honored.
"It was nice to be recognized for saving someone's life," 33-year-old Speer said Thursday, adding that the woman never thanked him. "But I'm just back here at business as usual."