California Department of Fish and Game Warden Jorge Paz was awarded the state’s highest honor for heroism, December 7. His story is just one of many that illustrate how DFG wardens risk their lives for the benefit of others, every day.
“The Department of Fish and Game is extremely proud of Warden Paz,” said Chief Foley, “and all of our game wardens. They work harder than most people realize, and put their lives on the line each day for Californians and our natural resources.”
Fish and Game Warden Jorge Paz was awarded Governor Schwarzenegger’s Medal of Valor Tuesday for demonstrating an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism to save the life of another.
On October 17, 2009 Warden Jorge Paz was traveling eastbound on Highway 154 at the Cold Springs Bridge, Santa Barbara County, when he observed a man walking westbound on the southern side of the bridge. The man was walking at a slow pace, standing every few steps, and looking down below the bridge. Warden Paz pulled off the highway, found the man’s abandoned vehicle, and obtained identifying information from the license plate. He approached the man and called to him by name. The man responded by telling him that he was going to jump off the bridge.
Warden Paz immediately noticed the man’s size - six feet, four inches and approximately 200 pounds - compared to his own five foot, seven inch, 160-pound. frame. Because of the man’s size and the fact that Paz was by himself, he first attempted to calm the man by talking to him about his issues. The man had stated that he was wanted for murder in another state and that he wanted to end his life. The claim was later deemed unfounded. The man kept his hand near the guard rail and kept looking down to avoid eye contact. After about five minutes, CHP Officer Whitney Taylor arrived to assist.
Repeatedly, Warden Paz tried to talk the man out of suicide so he could handle his problems through counseling. When he was convinced the man would not comply, he made the decision to act. Paz gave Officer Taylor a three count behind his back. He charged the man. A struggle ensued. The man fought back and strained for the railing. With extreme difficulty, Warden Paz and Officer Taylor successfully subdued him and restrained him with handcuffs. Warden Paz and Officer Taylor’s actions likely prevented the man plunging off the bridge to his death.