PIO Number: 22-4-1

Date: April 1, 2022

Media Note: For soundbites and video with Deputy Hernandez click here.

A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy in Deerfield Beach is credited with saving the life of a teen who was attempting to jump off a highway overpass.
“We make split second decisions in this job. But in this moment, I really had to take my time,” Deputy Darnell Hernandez said.
Around 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, deputies responded to the report of a male sitting over traffic on the Interstate 95 overpass near Northwest 48th Street. Deputy Darnell Hernandez was the first to arrive and found a teenager, visibly upset and crying, sitting on the ground with his feet hanging over the passing traffic below. Dep. Hernandez immediately recognized the situation as a potential suicide attempt and called for units to shut down the southbound lanes of traffic on Interstate 95 and for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue to respond.
As the deputy began to approach, the teen moved closer to the edge of the overpass. However, Dep. Hernandez began to speak to him and was able to develop a rapport with him.
“I didn’t want to make any fast moves. I walked closer to him and asked him his name. I told him that people care about him, don’t do this, people care about you. As I was talking to him, I called in to get units to shut down I-95 southbound and have Fire Rescue respond,” Dep. Hernandez said.
The teen expressed he wanted to harm himself due to family problems and had previously had these types of thoughts. Shortly before other deputies arrived on scene, Dep. Hernandez successfully brought the young man, safely and securely, off of the ledge.
“He had headphones on, so I asked him to take them off. I kept saying, ‘people care about you, don’t do this.’ Then I noticed he started to move his feet back onto the sidewalk. That’s when I was able to secure him and bring him safely off the overpass,” Deputy Hernandez said. “I felt so relieved.”
The deputy’s swift action and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training allowed him to effectively engage with the teen who was suffering from a mental health crisis.
“These kinds of situations are split second decisions, but you have to be calm, collect your thoughts and take your time. You have to think outside of just trying to run up to them quickly. You have to be slow and deliberate. When I think about it, it still gets to me. I’m just glad he is safe,” said Deputy Hernandez.
The specialized CIT training educates deputies on how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness, uses effective de-escalation skills in crisis and educates deputies on what an individual living with mental illness may be going through.
Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm and following up with loved ones are just some of the actions we can all take to help others. Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions today, because otherwise there may not be a tomorrow. To learn more about 2-1-1 Broward and community resources available, CLICK HERE. 2-1-1 Broward is available 24/7. To get more information about suicide prevention, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline HERE. If you or someone you know is in crisis and contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

THIS REPORT BY:
Miranda Grossman/PIO