Faced with a 12-year-old girl hanging by an arm from an 80-foot-high bridge, threatening to end her young life, a rookie cop started talking, reports CBS Los Angeles. Asking the girl if he could come closer, Officer Chris Perez says the child "was just crying and holding on;" she told Perez she had fled a group home in LA, and that she needed help. "It was just back-and-forth banter with me and her," Perez says. "'Can I come closer to you? Can I talk you closer? Can I pull you over the ledge so we can talk in a safer environment?' It was that back-to-back conversation with her that I felt was going so smoothly that I felt comfortable enough to lean over and get her."
Per CBS, Perez "leaned over the railing, grabbed her in a bear hug, and helped her over the railing to safety." Police officials credit Perez's "calm, professional actions" with saving the girl, while Perez himself seems appalled that someone so young could find herself so desperate. "I can’t relate, that, oh my Lord, this young individual, this juvenile, is on the other side [on the bridge] what could possibly be going wrong in your life to make you want to do something like this?" But after the rescue, "she was sad and just started breaking down even more," Perez tells CBS News. The girl, who wanted to reconnect with an aunt, her only family, was put in police custody.