A suspected suicidal father drove his pickup truck off a cliff in California while his twin toddler daughters were inside the vehicle early Saturday, according to security footage.
“He had driven off the end of a 50-foot cliff and was upside down in the water,” San Diego Police Officer Jonathan Wiese told KFMB.
Wiese is now being hailed as a hero for jumping in the water to save the girls.
Officers first got the call for help after the father’s estranged wife called 911 and began their search for the truck. Wiese told KSWB that police tracked the father’s phone to the area around Sunset Cliffs.
“A female caller had said her husband left with their twin two-year-old daughters [and] was suicidal,” Wiese said.
Once officers spotted the vehicle, officers did not want to start a chase for fear of what the driver could do. But the driver, identified as Robert Brians, could tell the cops spotted him.
“Before I could even plan my next move, he picked up speed and drove right off the end of the cliff and your heart sinks and your first thought is please tell me the girls weren’t in the car,” Wiese said.
Wiese pulled the father and both girls out of the wrecked truck and tied a 100-foot leash around one of the girls so she could be pulled up to safety. A lifeguard arrived by boat to help the other daughter, who was seriously injured. That daughter and the father were rescued by helicopter.
Wiese said he was able to speak to the father during the rescue.
“He said, ‘I can’t believe we didn’t die,’ because he was trying to commit suicide. And then he told me the girls were actually sitting in his lap when he drove over the cliff and no one had seatbelts on,” Weise said. “I couldn’t fathom how they survived.”
Police told KWSB that both girls are expected to recover from the incident, including the girl with serious injuries. Brians is facing multiple charges, including two counts of attempted murder and kidnapping.
According to a GoFundMe account set up by a family friend to raise money for the toddlers’ medical expenses, the twin two-year-olds were taken by their father without permission, and the mother received many calls stating she would never see her kids again. The fundraiser has raised $7,082 as of Tuesday afternoon.