San Diego police officer Jonathan Wiese responded to a call of a suicidal man planning to drive off a bridge near Sunset Cliffs over the weekend. Wiese is now being praised as a hero after he scaled down a cliff to rescue the man and his 2-year-old twin daughters who were with him.
The man’s wife had called the Sheriff’s Department at around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning to report her husband’s intention to drive off the Coronado Bay Bridge in southern San Diego along with their two girls.
Wiese, a K9 officer, had almost arrived when he heard that the man’s pickup had just plunged over a ledge and had landed upside down on a rock in the water below.
“Literally, my heart sank,” Wiese stated on Sunday, and he recalled thinking, “Please tell me the girls were not in the car.”
The officer was one of the first to arrive at the scene, and right away, his “dad instincts” took over, he said.
“I have a two-year-old daughter at home so I imagined, ‘what if that was my wife and kid down there?’” Wiese told KGTV. “You’re not going to stand there on the cliff and watch it happen.”
Luckily, Wiese remembered that he had a 100-foot leash in his squad car used for SWAT missions, though he said he doesn’t always pack it with him. He grabbed it, removed his gun belt and vest, and tied one end of the leash around his waist. He passed the other end of it to his colleagues before scaling down the 30-foot cliff to the overturned pickup below.
“He had both girls,” Wiese recalled to NBC. “He was holding them and trying to tread water, but they were all going under. One was awake and crying the other one was pretty lifeless.”
Wiese performed some “rescue breathing” before San Diego Fire rescuers were able to lift the girls up the cliff side. Meanwhile, Wiese and the father, whose name was not released, awaited a fire-rescue helicopter to retrieve them.
The K9 officer, also a father of two, recalled the man saying that “he was going to die and the girls were coming with him,” FOX News reported.
While one girl suffered minor injuries, the other was hospitalized in critical condition, police said. Both are expected to make a full recovery. The father suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Afterward, Wiese, a 22-year veteran of the force, recounted his thoughts and feelings regarding the incident.
“I didn’t do the job to be liked every day, I didn’t do it to become rich,” he said. “I did it because I want to be out there making a difference and helping people, as cliché as that might sound, but I was just glad I could be there.”
He added, “You just do what you have to do, but after everyone was safe, it hits you and you just want to go home and hug your kids, that’s for sure.”
Meanwhile, SDPD Police Chief David Nisleit offered up praise for the courageous act, calling it “the most heroic thing I’ve seen in my 32 years.”
Even more remarkably, the police chief noted that Wiese was previously named Officer of the Year for arresting the gunman who opened fire at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California, in April 2019.