On the rainy evening of February 16, 2000, off-duty Officer Mark Mireles was driving home on Riverside Drive in Los Feliz when he observed a large blue flash in front of the MTA bus he was following. He then observed that all power in the surrounding area go out. Officer Mireles drove around the bus and saw a Jeep Cherokee on its side near the east curb near a sheared off power pole lying on the road.
With the live transformer and electrical wires in contact with the wet ground, blue arcs of electricity illuminated the area surrounding the disabled vehicle. Officer Mireles parked his vehicle in the center lane and activated his hazard lights. He then exited his vehicle, ran over to the bus, identified himself as a police officer and instructed the bus driver to request police and fire units to the scene.
Returning his attention to the Jeep, Officer Mireles witnessed the driver climb out of the driver’s side window and fall to the curb. Dazed, but not seriously injured, the driver then tried to return to the Jeep to rescue his wife on the passenger side of the vehicle. Officer Mireles stopped him, warning him that he could be electrocuted if he tried to reenter the vehicle. Officer Mireles escorted the driver to a safe area and notified him that the Fire Department was en-route.
Carefully maneuvering between the downed electrical lines, some of which were wrapped around and laying on the vehicle, Officer Mireles climbed on top of the disabled Jeep to check on the condition of the passenger. The passenger complained of severe pain in her right arm and was unable to pull herself out of the vehicle. Because of the downed power lines and the unstable condition of the upturned Jeep, Officer Mireles cautioned the passenger to remain calm and not move until the Fire Department arrived.
Suddenly, the downed power transformer burst into flames, igniting flammable liquids that had leaked from the vehicle. Officer Mireles, fearing that the flames would spread to the vehicle and without regard for his personal safety, returned to the Jeep and calmly told the passenger that he was going to get her out. He reached in through the driver-side door and physically pulled the woman out. Officer Mireles helped the passenger off the jeep and carried her through path of downed live electrical wires to safety.
Officer Mark Mireles’ bravery, courage, and heroic actions in rescuing a woman in eminent and extreme danger embody the finest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department. For these outstanding efforts, Officer Mireles is hereby acknowledged with the Medal of Valor.
On the afternoon of June 15, 2000, a 42-year old male had reached a state of deteriorated mental health to the point where taking his own life seemed his only option. To end his mental suffering, he decided to leap to his death from a seventh floor parking structure located on Wilshire Boulevard to the sidewalk below. An unidentified individual witnessed the man climb over the waist-high wall on the top level and onto the thin ledge surrounding the structure. The witness then called 9-1-1 and informed the operator of what appeared to be a suicide in progress.
Officer David Orozco and his partner responded to the radio call. Upon arrival they observed the distraught man on the ledge and immediately requested the Fire Department and additional units to respond, as the parking structure was in a heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic business district of Wilshire Boulevard. A crowd had already started to assemble to witness the outcome.
Before the Fire Department and additional police units arrived, the man jumped from the ledge. As he was falling, his right arm miraculously hooked on to the railing of the sixth floor, temporarily stopping his descent. Fire Department personnel had arrived and attempted to inflate a jump cushion but were unsuccessful due to the trees lining the sidewalk. Officer Orozco and his partner decided that other measures had to be taken.
Officer Orozco then began speaking to the distraught man and slowly approached. In a soothing manner, Officer Orozco continued the conversation for several minutes. The man, suddenly ignoring the officer, looked out over the crowd that had gathered below and prepared to jump. Just as he let go of the railing and began to fall, Officer Orozco lunged forward and grabbed the right sleeve of the man’s jacket. The jumper was now dangling in mid air, being held only by Officer Orozco.
The weight of the man falling pulled Officer Orozco over the retaining wall. The officer managed to grab the ledge with one hand and hold on to the man with the other. Officer Orozco’s partner grabbed Officer Orozco and held on as the distraught man dangling in mid air, fought to break free. The struggle continued for at least one minute. Just as it appeared that progress was being made, the man’s jacket began to give way.
At that moment, an unidentified individual ran to the aid of the officers, threw his upper body over the wall and grabbed the jumper by the belt. Despite the violent, fighting efforts of the jumper, the combined efforts of Officer Orozco, his partner and the unidentified individual prevailed and the distraught man was pulled to safety. The distraught man was then transported to the hospital for mental evaluation and counseling.
Officer David Orozco is commended for his bravery, clear thinking and quick response to a rapidly deteriorating incident. In the highest traditions of the Los Angeles Police Department, Officer Orozco is awarded the Medal of Valor.