Andre Mary and his wife Joelle were out riding their bicycles in Long Beach, California, on Feb. 10 when the sound a girl in distress reached their ears.
Andre spotted a teenage girl on the ledge of a freeway overpass and the 79-year-old former French paratrooper leaped into action. "I have to save this girl. I have to do something,” he told KNBC.
Holding onto a fence on the edge of the overpass, Andre walked toward the crying teen, who has not been identified by police. "She was on the fence like that and I put my arm around her," Andre said. He explained that he didn’t look down once and never felt afraid, despite the height, cars passing below and lack of protective gear.
Joelle also tried to come to the teen’s aid. "I was flabbergasted to see him on the other side but at the same time, I wanted to help the girl," she said. "I was pulling her T-shirt through the fence.”
California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Long Beach firefighters responded to the scene when a witness called for help, Marlene Arrona, a police spokeswoman, told the Long Beach Press-Telegram in an email. The responders cut a hole in the fence to pull Andre and the teen to safety.
Although it’s not clear why the teen was on the overpass, she was transported to a hospital and officers with the Police Mental Evaluation Team will be providing assistance in the investigation.
"She was so beautiful, so young. We can't let people go in that way,” Andre said. "I hope that she's OK and I wish the best for her."