Officer saves man after he jumps from bridge

Officer saves man after he jumps from bridge

A Lincoln police officer jumped into action Tuesday night, shielding a man who had jumped from a bridge into traffic on I-180.Officer Austin Espinoza had just finished a call and let dispatchers know he was back on patrol. It was just before 10:00 p.m.He said he was driving west down Superior Street when he saw a man walking against traffic in the westbound lanes Tuesday night.“I thought it was very strange, something didn’t feel right,” Espinoza said.He checked his computer to see if anyone had called 911 about the man.When he looked back up, the man had stopped.“I saw the male had stopped and he began lifting one of his legs and I immediately made a u-turn,” Espinoza said.It was too late.”It almost didn’t seem real. I didn’t believe it. I saw the male and the next thing I know he was gone. It couldn’t register in my head right away,” Espinoza said.He said the man jumped onto Interstate 1-80 below. The speed limit is 65 and it was dark.“I just had a gut-wrenching feeling. I thought of the worst,” Espinoza said.Still on the bridge, Officer Espinoza shined his flashlight down on the man so cars wouldn’t hit him.”As I was spotting him with my flashlight there was at least two cars that made a last second lane change to miss the male laying in the roadway,” he said.He had a choice: move his cruiser onto the interstate below, leaving the man alone for a bit in the dark, or run toward him.“Weighing those options in my head, both of them possibly having an option of serious injury, I decided to run down the embankment,” Espinoza said.”I just jumped into action, got down there, I saw him move his arm a little bit, that gave me some hope,” he said.Espinoza put his body between the man and speeding cars.“It was just me, the reflective stripes on my uniform and my flashlight,” he said.”When I was directing traffic, I was very scared. I didn’t know if the vehicles would see us, if we would be hit by a vehicle.”He said medics arrived minutes later and took the man to a hospital.Espinoza said many have called him a hero, telling him he was in the right place at the right time.”Some have called me a hero, but I was just doing my job,” he said.He said any law enforcement officer is there to help if you’re feeling helpless.”If people at home are feeling depressed, suicidal, going through a tough time, any law enforcement is there to help. There are several resources that are not law enforcement, but if you’re feeling that way please call, get some help,” Espinoza said.“Knowing that I saved him, hopefully he sees the better side of life and can get the help he needs and make a full recovery.” The man is still in critical condition at a Lincoln hospital.Espinoza is a two-year veteran of the Lincoln Police Department.If you are feeling helpless or depressed, the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Please, reach out for help.

A Lincoln police officer jumped into action Tuesday night, shielding a man who had jumped from a bridge into traffic on I-180.

Officer Austin Espinoza had just finished a call and let dispatchers know he was back on patrol. It was just before 10:00 p.m.

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He said he was driving west down Superior Street when he saw a man walking against traffic in the westbound lanes Tuesday night.

“I thought it was very strange, something didn’t feel right,” Espinoza said.

He checked his computer to see if anyone had called 911 about the man.

When he looked back up, the man had stopped.

“I saw the male had stopped and he began lifting one of his legs and I immediately made a u-turn,” Espinoza said.

It was too late.

“It almost didn’t seem real. I didn’t believe it. I saw the male and the next thing I know he was gone. It couldn’t register in my head right away,” Espinoza said.

He said the man jumped onto Interstate 1-80 below. The speed limit is 65 and it was dark.

“I just had a gut-wrenching feeling. I thought of the worst,” Espinoza said.

Still on the bridge, Officer Espinoza shined his flashlight down on the man so cars wouldn’t hit him.

“As I was spotting him with my flashlight there was at least two cars that made a last second lane change to miss the male laying in the roadway,” he said.

He had a choice: move his cruiser onto the interstate below, leaving the man alone for a bit in the dark, or run toward him.

“Weighing those options in my head, both of them possibly having an option of serious injury, I decided to run down the embankment,” Espinoza said.

“I just jumped into action, got down there, I saw him move his arm a little bit, that gave me some hope,” he said.

Espinoza put his body between the man and speeding cars.

“It was just me, the reflective stripes on my uniform and my flashlight,” he said.

“When I was directing traffic, I was very scared. I didn’t know if the vehicles would see us, if we would be hit by a vehicle.”

He said medics arrived minutes later and took the man to a hospital.

Espinoza said many have called him a hero, telling him he was in the right place at the right time.

“Some have called me a hero, but I was just doing my job,” he said.

He said any law enforcement officer is there to help if you’re feeling helpless.

“If people at home are feeling depressed, suicidal, going through a tough time, any law enforcement is there to help. There are several resources that are not law enforcement, but if you’re feeling that way please call, get some help,” Espinoza said.

“Knowing that I saved him, hopefully he sees the better side of life and can get the help he needs and make a full recovery.”

The man is still in critical condition at a Lincoln hospital.

Espinoza is a two-year veteran of the Lincoln Police Department.

If you are feeling helpless or depressed, the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Please, reach out for help.

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