Deputies, civilian honored for saving suicidal man who dangled from overpass

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The dramatic scene unfolded Sunday morning, as witnesses and deputies rushed to save the man's life. Now, those involved in the rescue are speaking out about it.

Deputy Jesse Leal and Deputy Rebecca Cruz from the Harris County Sheriff's Office pulled a suicidal man to safety who was dangling from the concrete railing of the I-45 freeway overpass northbound at Richey Road Sunday.

"We're both literally over the rail trying to get him back on the same side. We were able to bring him over by the grace of God," Deputy Leal said.

He said that the man was determined to commit suicide, but they were able to subdue him.

Leal said that about 15 people were on the ground below ready with blankets and a truck to help catch the man if he jumped.

"They're the real heroes," Leal said of the citizens.

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Harris County deputies Cruz and Leal talk about saving the life of a man who was dangling from bridge

"I immediately ran towards him and that's when the man let go of his leg and was hanging by his fingertips," Deputy Cruz added. She said that she and Deputy Leal arrived within seconds of each other and immediately grabbed the man.

Cruz said that he repeatedly tried to return to the ledge after he was saved.

"We didn't know what he was going to do," she said. "We were there at the right time."

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Good Samaritans scramble to save man from overpass in Houston, Deborah Wrigley reports.

Eustorgio Garcia-Flores was another good samaritan who helped with the rescue on the freeway. He thanked the deputies Tuesday morning and also provided a different perspective.

"At the top, I see Mr. Leal full of mud, water and oil, holding the guy on the neck and breathing kind of accelerated. I said, 'Are you OK?' And he was just shaking his head. I saw Deputy Cruz trying to get the other hand," Garcia-Flores described. "I took a minute to talk to the guy, and I said, 'Just give them your hand. They just want to help you. They're not going to hurt you.'"

Garcia-Flores said the man was scared and starting to cry, and that's when he gave him his hand. At that moment, Deputy Cruz was able to put the handcuffs on the man who tried to jump again.

"I saw two people with much heart. They risked their lives. It was not easy," Garcia-Flores said.

David Garcia, 19, recorded the whole incident, which he said lasted four minutes.

Along with the deputies on Tuesday, Garcia also spoke about what he saw and had a message for the members of law enforcement that were part of the rescue.

"I just wanted to say that the police that were there, they did their job, and I feel like everything that's going on with all the officers and everything, disregard all that. They did their job that day," Garcia said. "They saved that man's life."

"Thank God somebody got it on camera because some people probably wouldn't have believed it, but they did their job," he added.

Garcia told Eyewitness News at the time of the incident that the man also tried to wiggle out of his shirt as the deputies were working to save him.

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A man was seen dangling from the concrete railing, while onlookers gathered feet below- holding out their arms to catch the man if he let go.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said Deputy Leal suffered an injury to his right knee during the ordeal. He had a cane during the press conference on Tuesday.

The man was taken to Ben Taub Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. His identity has not been released.

Authorities acknowledged Tuesday that there were many people who helped and called on them to come forward and reach out to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

"Similar to what we saw during Harvey, just that resiliency here in Harris County, Houston, Texas, people pulling together," said Sheriff Gonzalez.

Gonzales said there will be an awards ceremony to honor the deputies and the citizens who tried to intervene.
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