A San Diego police officer who saved twin 2-year-old girls and their father after their car plunged off Sunset Cliffs shared how he made the daring rescue -- and how much of a personal impact the incident had on him.
San Diego Police K-9 Officer, Jonathan Wiese, said he was working Saturday morning just after 5 a.m. when he heard the call for help over police scanners.
“Male subject left his house with his twin 2-year-old daughters, was possibly armed with a gun and threatening suicide by driving his truck off the Coronado Bridge,” said Wiese, recalling the call.
He said he rushed to the Coronado Bridge but just a few minutes later, he found out the suspect was driving quickly through Point Loma and had plunged off Sunset Cliffs, near Hill Street, into the ocean below.
The officer's mind was racing.
“Oh my God. What the heck? Please tell me the kids weren’t in there. Please tell me he dropped them off,” Wiese said.
Wiese said he was one of the first responding officers. He saw the mangled car upside down in the water. He said he thought about jumping in, and estimated a 30-foot drop, but then he remembered he had a 100-foot leash in his patrol car.
He said only five SDPD K-9 officers have the specific leash, which is most commonly used during SWAT-related cases. Wiese tied the leash around his body and passed the other end to officers standing by. Then, he rappelled down the cliff.
He said once he made it down the side of the cliff, the father was in the water holding his two daughters while trying to tread water and keep from drowning.
“He had both girls," Wiese explained. "He was holding them and trying to tread water, but they were all going under. One was awake and crying the other one was pretty lifeless."
He managed to rescue all three from the water and pushed them onto the rocks.
The officer said one of the girls was struggling to breathe and he knew he had to get her to first responders quickly in order to save her life.
“She was somewhat crying, somewhat not. I tried to invert her, get the water out of her lungs, make sure she’s breathing. I put her in the bag, they threw the leash back down and hoisted her back up,” said Wiese.
Wiese said the rescue took an emotional toll on him. He has a 2-year-old daughter of his own. He said his family -- his toddler, 4-year-old son, and wife -- is what motivated him to act so quickly.
“I would do for the public, what I would do for them. I treat everyone that way. I treat them as if they were my family down there, and that’s pretty much what happened in this case,” said Wiese.
Police said the father and daughters are expected to recover. It’s not clear what kind of charges the man is facing.
Last year, Wiese was honored for his response during the Poway Synagogue shooting.