PortandTerminal.com, June 16, 2020
San Diego police officer rescues two toddlers after their father drove off Sunset Cliffs on Saturday morning.
SAN DIEGO, CA – Last Saturday a distraught and suicidal father drove his car off Sunset Cliffs at high speed with his twin two-year-old girls sitting in his lap.
The surveillance footage above shows the moment early Saturday morning when the man careened off a 50-foot cliff into the water.
The Sheriff’s Department had been contacted by the man’s wife around 4:30 a.m. reporting that her husband had taken off with their 2-year-old girls, with plans to drive off the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
A sheriff’s dispatcher notified San Diego police and put out a description of the family and their tan pickup. The police eventually traced the man’s cell phone to the cliffs.
When police Lt. Dave Bautista successfully located the truck and approached the vehicle, the driver sped off and careened off the edge, plunging into the ocean below.
San Diego police Officer Jonathan Wiese was almost at Sunset Cliffs when Lt. Dave Bautista radioed that the suicidal driver police had been looking for had just driven off the cliffs.
Arriving at the scene moments after the car went flying off the cliff, Officer Wiese ran behind Bautista to the edge of the cliffs. They saw the truck upside down, smashed on a rock, with the cab underwater. Wiese said his first thought was that no one had survived. Then he saw the motions of the man, holding onto the two girls.
In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Officer Wiese, the father of a 2-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, said simply that his “dad instincts” kicked in.
This close call is a reminder that if you or someone you know are struggling with mental health, seek help before it’s too late.Kevin Faulconer, Mayor of San Diego
His first thought was to jump off the edge, but it was dark out and the cliffside was rocky. Then he thought of a 100-foot-long canine leash used for SWAT missions. The K-9 officer stripped off his gun belt and vest, wrapped the leash around his chest and threw one end over the cliffs. He gave the other end to arriving officers.
“I said, ‘Hey, hang on. I’m going.’”
Officers helped lower him about 30 feet onto rocks, where Wiese got into the water and swam to the family, his uniform and boots still on. The man was treading water with a girl in each arm. One girl was crying, holding onto the man’s neck; the other appeared to be “lifeless,” Wiese said.
Because of the report of the man’s suicidal thoughts, Wiese thought it best to rescue all three and not leave the man behind. Wiese remembered his water survival training from Marine Corps boot camp. He swam under the trio as he pushed them to shore, keeping them above water.
At the bottom of the cliff, he put the girl who appeared to be in the worst shape in a canvas bag. Using the same leash, officers hoisted the girl up the cliff’s edge. With the help of arriving San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel, they repeated the process to rescue the second girl.
Wiese stayed with the man, who “was banged up pretty good,” until a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department helicopter hoisted the man up.
The three were taken to hospital and are expected to survive.
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