FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A chance encounter on Falmouth Bridge this week led to two officers from the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office and Fredericksburg Police saving a young woman from a suicide attempt.

Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant T. Merrell was driving home just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14, still wearing a dress, boots, glasses and wig from when she played the part of Mrs. Claus for the Public Safety Santa Run earlier that day. As she was driving on the Falmouth Bridge, Merrell saw a woman bending over the bridge railing and looking down. Going off a gut feeling, Merrell turned her car around, according to Fredericksburg Police.

Screenshot from bodycam footage by Fredericksburg Police

After turning around, Merrell found the woman in the same spot, but she now had one leg hanging over the bridge. Merrell called for assistance over her police radio, then approached the woman and started using her crisis intervention skills — all still in her Mrs. Claus costume.

At the same time, Fredericksburg Police Patrol Sergeant A. Lynch was also driving home after working the Santa Run. He pulled over to assist Merrell, and the two worked together to safely pull the woman off the railing.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital and is now receiving mental health assistance.

The unique story is made all the more interesting by the fact that neither Merrell nor Lynch would normally be on the bridge at all.

“The most amazing part of this story is that Lieutenant Merrell and Sergeant Lynch typically
take a different route home,” Fredericksburg Police Chief Brian Layton said. “Call it divine intervention or fate, I truly believe these officers were meant to take the route they did and help save this woman’s life. I applaud them both for flawlessly utilizing their crisis intervention skills.”

“This was remarkable teamwork between the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office and Police Department and a true Christmas miracle,” Fredericksburg Sheriff Scott Foster added.

If you or anyone you know are struggling with mental health or having suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to receive assistance from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.