Last Updated: 3:27 p.m.
Four public safety agencies this morning cooperated in literally talking a 17-year-old Palm Coast girl off the ledge on the I-95 overpass at Palm Coast Parkway. The incident shut down I-95 northbound and the parkway’s eastbound traffic in the 6 and 7 o’clock hours this morning before it was resolved without harm to anyone.
“The interagency cooperation is what helps us protect our citizens the best, and this was an example of that,” Interim palm Coast Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill said today, referring to the agencies that responded: the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, the Palm Coast Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue, and the Flagler Beach Fire Department. The Florida Highway Patrol and the Palm Coast Fire Police also responded. “And we always love a successful outcome.”
The incident began minutes after 6 a.m. when the girl’s father reported to the Sheriff’s Office that his daughter, a resident of the B Section, was threatening to hurt herself. “I can’t do this anymore,” he said the girl had told him before leaving the house wearing gray shorts and a tank-top. It was not the first time that the girl had spoken of desperation. Her father believed she was heading for the overpass to jump.
Deputies began searching the area, circling the public library near Belle Terre Parkway and crisscrossing several streets in the area until one of the sheriff’s units reported at 6:38 a.m. that the girl was on the overpass–grabbing on to the railing on the side of I-95, “slowly inching toward the highway,” according to the reporting deputy. Medical units and fire departments were immediately dispatched and the highway below shut down. A Palm Coast Fire Department ladder truck was positioned below. The sheriff’s Crisis Negotiations Team was on the bridge. When they found out that the girl preferred to deal with a woman, they brought along Laura Jenkins, a road patrol deputy on the force three years.
“Deputy Jenkins was negotiating with the juvenile, letting her know she’s there to help her, when the juvenile let go of the rail to jump,” a sheriff’s release states. Flagler Beach Police Department’s Detective Rosanna Vinci was also negotiating. “Deputy Jenkins immediately grabbed her hand before she could fall and secured her to the rail with handcuffs.”
In Palm Coast Fire Department Lt. Patrick Juliano’s words, “Several times while we were there she let go of the overpass but the deputies upon the bridge never once let go.”
An edited video the Sheriff’s Office released this afternoon shows the girl on the ledge, her back to the highway below (the girl’s face is intentionally blurred), screaming to the negotiators to get away from her and not touch her. The two negotiators speak to her calmly, apparently after Jenkins had managed to lock in the handcuff and before the ladder truck had arrived below. She kept crying: “Go away, please go away.”
The rescue team then successfully rescued the juvenile by using a fire engine ladder, with deputy Crista Rainey–a former Flagler Beach police officer–and a firefighter walking up on the ladder. As Juliano described it in an email, “Ladder 25 arrived on scene to immediately set up the Ladder in the middle lane of I-95 SB. The Ladder was set up facing NB in order to reach the female patient attempting to jump. Driver Engineer Graham along with FCSO Deputy Rainey climbed to the ladder once it was in position to rescue the female patient.”
“I want you to listen. You’re tired, right? This is me, it’s me. You’re tired, you’re exhausted,” Rainey tells the girl, as the handcuffs are removed. The girl briefly screams as she is taken off the ledge and onto the ladder. The rescuers were still not in the clear. Rainey, the girl and the firefighter were still high up. It wasn’t as simple as escorting the girl down the ladder, since she wasn’t exactly cooperative.
Several others ensured that the operation remained safe. “DE Davidson maintained aerial control at the pedestal and positioned the vehicle flawlessly,” Juliano said. “Firefighter Pacifico, Firefighter Fortunato set up all the medical supplies in the event the situation escalated. Lieutenant Kulev did an outstanding job in command. The outstanding team effort by everyone on scene contributed to saving this young lady’s life this morning.”
“Tilt it down,” one of the rescuers said of the ladder, “so if she jumps, it’s a shorter distance to the ground than from up here,” one of the firefighters says during the rescue, referring to the ladder. The ladder then swivels away from the bridge and the girl is brought back down to earth. The girl was on the ladder truck at 7:26 and on the ground, safe, two minutes later. (Rainey is the versatile deputy who just three months ago had to deal with an armed suspect who’d attempted to pull his firearm during an arrest, after a traffic stop.) Strangely, and not quite in tune with the depicted reality, the video at that point switches to warm-and-fuzzy-sounding music. The rescuers’ skills aside, there is nothing warm and fuzzy about what compelled the girl to attempt to take her own life, or about the desert of mental health services to which she will be released after a maximum of 72 hours in the care of Halifax hospital’s psychiatric unit.
All traffic lanes were reopened at 7:50.
“This is an outstanding rescue by all agencies involved,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “The quick response and combined efforts of FCSO deputies, Crisis Negotiations, Communications Center, Fire Rescue, and the deputies holding the juvenile’s hand saved a life today. Their training in de-escalation techniques and being able to talk to someone who’s threatening to take their life is remarkable. I commend all the men and women who stepped up for this child’s life today. Someone’s daughter was saved on Father’s Day, and I hope she receives the help she needs.”
The girl was taken to AdventHealth hospital in Palm Coast and was processed to be Baker Acted. At the hospital she tried to walk off a couple of times but was convinced to comply with procedures, according to dispatch notes.
“This morning was an emotionally charged scene,” Juliano said. “There were lots of people who invested themselves into this young lady surviving. The emotional toll a call like this takes can be overwhelming. I really need to commend FCSO Deputy Jenkins and FBPD Officer Vinci, they were spectacular in keeping hold of this young lady, especially holding on to her through a guard rail and fence. This morning we saw everyone come together, do their best and the best result was achieved. I am extremely proud of all of them and wanted to recognize their efforts.”
Engine 21 and Ladder 25 were on the call, as was Flagler County Fire Rescue 21.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies have built a remarkable record of de-escalation over the past dozen years, preventing numerous individuals, some of them suicidal, from either harming themselves or harming deputies, and avoiding any officer-involved death of either civilians or officers along the way. This year, the deputies have tallied at least three suicide preventions, including one in early May when they talked a man from shooting himself. The man had a gun to his head in a public place in the Hammock. Today’s rescue did not involve a gun, but averted what may have been an equally tragic end.
The following resources are available for individuals in crisis:
In Flagler: The Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit (CTTU) is a crisis assessment and referral service for Flagler County residents experiencing behavioral health crisis. It is located at 301 Justice Lane in the Brown & Brown Outpatient building at the Vince Carter Sanctuary in Bunnell. This program is limited to individuals escorted to the program by law enforcement between the hours of noon and midnight daily. Law enforcement is able to transport individuals to SMA to assess and determine the appropriate clinical disposition. When required and appropriate, SMA then transports the individual to a receiving facility in Volusia County.
In Daytona Beach: Stewart-Marchman Act Corporation Crisis Center
1220 Willis Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Crisis Line: (800) 539 – 4228
Available 24 hours.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800/273-8255 (TALK), or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255.
People 60 and older can call the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour, toll-free Friendship Line at 800-971-0016. IOA also makes ongoing outreach calls to lonely older adults.
If you are concerned for someone else, read about warning signs here. For additional resources, see the Speaking of Suicide website.
Great job now let’s hope she gets the mental follow up care this poor child needs
My prayers go out to this girl and her family. I hope she gets the help she needs.
Mark Peterson says
Absolutely a great job of responding and coordination of depts. But let’s not clap each other on the back yet. There are reasons for this young lady’s actions. When they are addressed then it will be “mission complete”. I hope this young lady turns out well. But no, there will be more calls. Look around at what a kid sees.
Flagler County residents are blessed to have skilled and dedicated Sheriff and Deputies, Firefighters who are specially trained to do a rescue to save a person’s life. Hope this young girl will get the mental health that she surely needs. Thanks to all who responded to save her.
An outstanding job by our first responders. Kudos to all of you.
Trailer Bob says
Amazing efforts by our local departments.
So happy to see this young lady may now get the help she needs to see her life in a different perspective.
shy guy says
I have had the need for the emts from the fire dept and my neighbor Patrick responded and picked me up several times. These guys and gals are fantastic . If you ever need help they’re there. I’m so glad to live here with these people available when you need them
John Smith says
Correct me if I’m wrong but posting the body cam was in poor taste. While the departments depicted in this rescue did a good job talking down the girl and getting her the help she needs, videos of this nature should remain unreleased for the sake of the victim and her family. Even if her identity is somewhat concealed.
I doubt there was any consent given by the family nor the victim.
Paul L says
From article here- “she will be released after a maximum of 72 hours in the care of Halifax hospital’s psychiatric unit.” First I would like to say a big “hat’s off” to the emergency personnel who likely saved the life of this young lady. Hopefully, this close brush with death will give her a renewed appreciation for the precious gift of life. I would like to clarify what are some very common misunderstandings by many as to how the Florida Baker Act process actually works in practise. The article reference above reflects a common misconception in this regard when it reports that this young lady, who the article later indicates was “Baker Acted”, would be “released after a maximum of 72 hours”. That simply is NOT how the Baker act works in practise. The Baker Act does allow an individual to be held involuntarily for 72 hours. But that does NOT mean that an individual on a Baker Act will be held for 72 hours nor does it mean that any given individual will be held for only 72 hours. The 72 hour time period specified in Baker Act law is to allow the individual on the Baker Act to be evaluated and a disposition made subsequent to that evaluation. Almost always in my related working experience locally, an individual on a Baker Act is evaluated within 24 hours (more or less) of the Baker Act by a qualified professional. The main feature being decided upon in that evaluation is whether or not that individual is at immediate or imminent risk of harming either themselves or others. If it is decided by the evaluating professional that the individual detained under the Baker Act does NOT present with sufficient indication of risk, they cannot legally continue to be detained involuntarily. Because of that fact, not infrequently individuals who end up on Baker Acts (which happens for many different reasons and in many different circumstnces) are released the very next day. However, when the individual under the Baker Act does present with sufficient continuing indication of risk to themselves or others, he or she can continue to be detained under the Baker Act AND the Baker Act receiving facilities where Baker Act evaluations are usually conducted in Florida can petition in the courts for extended involuntary commitments if needed- even well beyond the 72 hour period specified in the Baker Act law. So all this said, someone detained on a Baker Act can be released within a day or can end up being held for a more extended period of time to allow for treatment depending on the circumstances of each Baker Act. I will note in closing that there are two Baker Act receiving facilities in Volusia County-both in Daytona- at the Hakifax Medical Center and at the Chet Bell Crisis Center run by SMA. There is not yet a receiving facility in Flagler County which has yet to catch up with the mental health needs of its growing population.
Donna Griffin says
As a mental health professional in Flagler county I am both appalled and frightened for this community regarding the publication of this video. There was absolutely no need for this video to be published. As a matter fact in doing so, increases the suicide risk for others in our community which is already the highest suicide rate per capita. This is a very underserved community psychiatrically and Irresponsible journalism such as the publication of this video is one of the leading causes of cluster suicides and copycat suicides in communities. Flagler live you’ve done nothing but further hurt the mentally ill in this community . There are plenty of studies to indicate what I’m saying is true. I’ll happily take a meeting with staff at Flagler live to educate them on The harm they are creating by exposing these types of events. I’ll also gladly take a meeting with anyone at Flagler County sheriffs office regarding the need to turn over body cam and have this poor girls experience publicized for all to see. Not sure where the problem lies or who is responsible with someone else and it needs to stop.
We agree. The video was taken down and shouldn’t have been published.