Officers from the Taos County Sheriff’s Office received commendations this week for saving a suicidal individual at the Río Grande Gorge Bridge Jan. 19.In a phone interview Jan. 24, …
Officers from the Taos County Sheriff’s Office received commendations this week for saving a suicidal individual at the Río Grande Gorge Bridge Jan. 19.
In a phone interview Jan. 24, Deputy Teodoro “Ted” Flores, one of the responding officers, recalled the incident.
At around 10:30 a.m., area law enforcement received a dispatch regarding a suicidal female who was threatening to “end her life” at the popular tourist destination. The dispatch included the description of a vehicle the subject would be driving. Flores said it’s the type of call that has become all-too-familiar for his office and for other law enforcement agencies in Taos County.
He responded immediately.
“Of course I felt it was important that I go,” he said. “I headed in the direction of the vehicle to attempt to intercept it and see what help we could get her.”
Flores searched the route in his patrol car, but encountered no vehicle matching the description. Anticipating his arrival at the bridge, he phoned other officers for support.
After reaching the bridge shortly around 11 a.m., the female, he said, was already out on the railing.
Flores said that he made his way out onto the bridge cautiously and started a conversation with the subject, readying himself to do “whatever necessary” to get her back to safety.
Though the subject allegedly asked Flores to “not come any closer,” the deputy managed to establish a rapport with her, he said, reaching beyond what the job typically calls for. “I told her we were there for her and that there was hope,” he said. “I wanted her to know that we were there to help her.”
Sgt. Rick Romero and Sgt. Jason Rael arrived shortly thereafter, supporting officer Flores by stopping east- and westbound traffic on either side of the bridge.
Still unable to get the subject to come back over the railing after several minutes, Flores and Romero called one of the subject’s relatives and handed the phone to her. After the phone call, she agreed to come back over, and the officers assisted her as she returned to safety, where she was then checked out by a medical team.
“Sometimes there’s a disconnect between law enforcement and what’s really happening in peoples’ lives,” Flores said, reflecting on the incident. “That day I just believed that we were going to be able to help her and get through to her and stop her from taking her own life. It doesn’t always happen that way, but fortunately we were able to help her that day.”
Flores, Romero and Rael received recognition from Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe for their service, as well as Flores’ brother, Mark Flores, facilities management and parks and recreation director for Taos County.
“Ted and I are both Taos natives,” Mark Flores said. “My brother has been on all ends of the tragedies at the bridge, from body recoveries to talking someone out of jumping. In my heart I believe it is important and essential that news be reported about the courageous and sincere acts of our local law enforcement ... In saving just one life, many lives are saved in one form or facet,” he said.
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