Police officer rescues family after father drives off San Diego cliff into ocean

Sven Gustafson



A man who was reportedly suicidal and his two young daughters were rescued by a police officer who improvised a way to be lowered down to the ocean after the father drove his pickup truck off a seaside cliff. All three were transported to a hospital and were expected to survive.

Reports say the driver’s wife called 911 early Saturday morning reporting that her husband was distraught and had taken off with their 2-year-old girls with plans to drive off the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Police were able to trace the man’s cellphone to Sunset Cliffs, but when an officer tried to approach the truck, the father sped off the end of the cliff.

The San Diego Union-Tribune details the rescue by Officer Jonathan Wiese, a 22-year San Diego Police Department veteran who heard the radio call that the truck had gone off the cliff and arrived to find the truck upside down and smashed on a rock in the water. He said he initially thought no one survived, but then he saw the motions of the father holding the two girls.

Thinking quickly, the K-9 officer stripped off his gun belt and vest and wrapped a 100-foot canine leash used for SWAT missions to his chest, giving the other end to arriving officers. They lowered him some 30 feet onto rocks, where Wiese jumped into the water and swam to the wreck. One girl was crying and holding on to her father’s neck, while the other appeared to be “lifeless,” he told the paper.

Using his Marine Corps training, Wiese, who still had his uniform and boots on, swam underneath the family and kept them above water as he pushed them to shore. He used a canvas bag so officers could hoist both girls up the cliff, with a helicopter later arriving to pull the father to safety.

The father suffered non-life-threatening injuries, while the most seriously injured daughter was in critical condition but was expected to survive, NBC San Diego reported.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide:

Know that help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is only a phone call away, at 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, along with prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.