How a rookie cop convinced girl to not jump off bridge

Rookie cop saves life of 12-year-old who inte... 02:30

A 12-year-old girl narrowly missed becoming a suicide statistic thanks to a rookie police officer in Southern California on a routine patrol.

"Possible jumper on the York Bridge. Can you notify Pasadena?" a dispatcher could be heard saying over a police scanner.

By the time that call went out, Officer Chris Perez, who had been on the South Pasadena Police force only for a year, was already there. The girl was on a 6-inch ledge ready to jump.

One misstep, and she could fall some 80 feet to her death, so Perez did not rush up to her.

"I walked up to her calmly. I literally didn't even start talking to her until I made it to the sidewalk and just asked her what was happening, what was going on," Perez told CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.

The whole time, he knew if he said the wrong thing, she might just let go.

"She told me she was upset by a group home that she was living at, and that's why she ran away. She was telling me they treated her poorly and badly and would lock her in a room every time she was bad," Perez said.

It took time, patience and trust.

"It was just back-and-forth banter with me and her. '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?'" Perez said. "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."

The girl did allow him to rescue her.

"I grabbed a hold of her arm, and I wrapped it around my neck and grabbed her body and bear hugged her and dragged her over," Perez said.

"2-0-2. It's code four. I got her off the bridge," Perez could be heard saying afterwards over the police radio.

Perez said the girl didn't seem happy after the rescue.

"She was sad and just started breaking down even more," he said.

By the time paramedics arrived, Perez's job was done -- but not forgotten. Now when he looks at the bridge, fear goes through his mind, he said.

She had told him she only had an aunt -- no other family -- and wanted to live with her. For now, the 12-year-old is waiting in protective police custody.