Off-duty cop nearly caught in Fla. bridge collapse helps save lives

The officer helped two unconscious people get to the hospital, and they may not have survived otherwise


By PoliceOne Staff

MIAMI — An officer braved the rubble of a bridge collapse in Florida after nearly being a victim herself.

CNN reports that Sweetwater Sgt. Jenna Mendez was at a red light when she witnessed the pedestrian bridge collapse near Florida International University on Thursday. She initially thought a demolition crew collapsed it, but when she saw the crushed cars, she sprung into action.

Had the officer beaten the red light, she may have been one of the victims of the collapse that killed at least six people.

"I was seconds away from being caught under that," she said.

Mendez, who wasn’t on duty at the time, was instead one of the first few people to respond to the collapse, according to WPTV. Mendez said after she jumped out of her vehicle, her instinct and training took over.

"I saw on top of the (rubble), there were several construction workers that were injured very badly. I jumped up there to assist, and I had four guys laying there," she said.

Two of the men had broken bones and two were unconscious, one of whom wasn’t breathing. The officer performed CPR on the man who wasn’t breathing and helped the two unconscious people get to the hospital after rescue workers arrived. The two may not have survived had the officer not helped.

Mendez said she was so shocked she doesn’t even remember hearing the bridge collapse.

"When I look back and see the news stories, you obviously can hear all the horns and the chaos, and think I was in such a zone and a mode that I do not remember hearing anything, to be honest with you," she said.

The officer, a mother of five, said she was thankful she was able to tell her husband she was safe. Mendez believes that anyone else would have helped in that situation but knows she was at that traffic light for a reason.

“Thank God, thank God I was there, we could assist and two lives were saved,” she said.

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