Police officers given bravery awards for saving girl on M40 bridge
PC Victoria Justice, PC Matthew Huard, Sgt Andy Fiddler and Chief Inspector Henry Parsons have been honoured by Thames Valley Police Federation for their efforts in stopping the girl from falling on the motorway.
The teen from a nearby school refused to talk to teachers but the officers managed to strike up a conversation to calm her down before grabbing her from the railings before she realised.
Federation chairman Craig O’Leary said the officers had acted with incredible calmness in a very tense situation, adding: “There was so much for them to think about.
"There was traffic roaring underneath the bridge on the M40 which had to be sorted out and given the girl was not communicative meant the whole situation had to be dealt with extremely delicately and with absolute professionalism. We are very proud of all of them.”
Sgt Fiddler had been driving back from a Federation training day when he saw stationary vehicles on a bridge over the M40 in the south of the county.
As he drew closer, he could see that the teenage girl was perched on the thin ledge of the motorway bridge, facing the carriageway, and was clinging on to the bridge’s railings.
Teachers from the school were at the scene and they explained that the girl was a voluntary mute, meaning communication and trying to talk her down from her precarious position was going to be extremely challenging.
Sgt Fiddler managed to close the road off and get the motorway closed via the control room while one of the teachers kept talking to the girl to keep her calm and reassured.
“It was a very, very difficult situation… but you almost go in to robotic mode in your response. She was getting, closer and closer to the edge so we knew we had to act," he said.
Another police crew and firefighters then arrived on the scene as PCs Justice and Huard struck up a conversation with the girl.
Together with Chief Inspector Parsons, the officers and the fire crews devised a plan to bring the emotional girl back from the ledge of the bridge as she edged closer and closer to the terrifying drop below.
The officers knew they could not just go and grab her as it might send them all tumbling over the bridge, so they crouched behind a vehicle before rushing to grab her to pull her back to safety.
PC Justice said: “It was a challenging situation, and given she wasn’t talking we didn’t know if she was just ignoring us, so we had to try and make her understand she wasn’t in any trouble.
“It was a plan put together with the firefighters and you can’t just go and grab someone particularly on the bridges because if it all goes wrong, there’s safety issues for us.
“It’s quite surprising to win an award, because we kind of do stuff like that all the time really.”
The quartet will attend an awards ceremony on Thursday, February 28, where an overall winner will be announced.