MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA.com) — An Orange County paramedic is being called a hero for risking his life to save a suicidal man.
The drama played out on a freeway overpass Saturday morning where the 43-year-old man was threatening to end his life.
CBS’s Louisa Hodge met up with the hero.
“In my mind,” said Mike Curtis, “I just did not want to see someone get hit by a bunch of cars.”
It had been a routine day for the Orange County Fire Authority’s Engine Company #9.
The despondent man was yelling and running between cars on busy Crown Valley Parkway.
Capt. Steve Concialdi of the OCFA, said paramedics stopped and yelled at the man to step over to the curb and to sit down.
“But he wasn’t acting right,” Concialdi said.
He ignored the firefighters, ran across the street and climbed up onto the railing of an overpass — below, a dangerous drop into traffic on the I-5 Freeway.
“He jumped over the railing, climbed up onto this bridge,” said Curtis.
The hero paramedic gave chase.
“He kind of looked at me, then he looked at the freeway,” said Curtis, “He then decided to jump off,” said Curtis.
When the man jumped to the road side of the freeway and not over the overpass, Curtis sprang into action.
“Mike Curtis, one of our firefighter-paramedics, tackled him,” said Concialdi, “and they rolled and they struggled — right to the shoulder of the freeway.”
They rolled about 50 feet down an embankment and ended up just feet from traffic.
At this point, Sheriff’s deputies joined the struggle and subdued the distraught man along with Curtis.
Without the men subduing him, Curtis is sure he would have run onto the freeway.
“It’s not in our nature to have to chase down our patients and tackle them,” Curtis said, “but I felt this was the right thing to do.”