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Jan 17

Off-duty firefighter's unexpected rescue

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Communications Office

Clint JohnsonClint Johnson joined the San José Fire Department because he "really enjoys helping people and it's a rewarding job." Little did this fire engineer at Station 20 know that he would come to the aid of someone at their darkest hours while off-duty.

On the afternoon of Monday, January 6, 2014, Clint and his friend, Jane Martz, were walking along the new pedestrian walkway of the Bay Bridge when they noticed a stalled vehicle with a Caltrans officer attending to it. They walked a bit further and saw another car pulled over. They watched as a woman got out, thinking she had car troubles too. Instead, she climbed over the concrete barrier and looked down at the water, holding on to a bridge cable with both hands. Then, she crouched down and jumped. "It was pretty surreal," Clint remarked.

Immediately, he called 9-1-1 while Jane ran over to the Caltrans personnel to get his assistance. Within minutes, California Highway Patrol was on the scene. Dye was dropped into the water to indicate where the woman dropped into the bay. The highway patrolman also threw his spare tire from his patrol car so she could hold onto and also use it as another marker for the Coast Guard who were called in for the rescue. Clint said he kept his eye on her the whole time, yelling where she was when she slipped out of view to rescuers. A Coast Guard cutter arrived and quickly scooped the woman out of the water and to safety.

Clint revealed that originally, he and Jane were going to be elsewhere at 3:40 that afternoon. But plans changed, and they were, as he put it, in the right place at the right time. "In my job, we see people whose lives have been lost to suicide. I'm glad this had a good outcome."

The woman was taken to the hospital and miraculously survived with minor injuries.

If it wasn't for the quick action of Clint and Jane, the ending would have been drastically different. "Anytime you're not sure of what's happening and something doesn't look right, don't wait or expect someone else will call 9-1-1. Make the call."

Clint hasn't been in direct contact with the woman. However, he wants to let anyone know who is having a tough time that "there is hope, and people do care."

While we will never know why this woman took the actions she did, the Bay Area is fortunate to have people like Clint and Jane living and working here, who are willing without hesitation to come to the aid of those who need it the most.

Watch the NBC Bay Area news story.


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