Girl who fell from A12 bridge saved by hero cop who broke her fall

PC Sam Owen at Chelmsford police station.
PC Sam Owen at Chelmsford police station -Credit:Si Barber

A police officer who heroically stood beneath a 14-year-oldgirl and broke her fall when she fell from a bridge on the A12 has been recognised for his bravery. PC Sam Owen was one of several officers who attended an incident in October 2023.

Essex Police were alerted to the emergency when they received several calls about a girl in school uniform in difficulty on the bridge. One of the callers was the mother of an off-duty officer; she informed him about the situation and he made his way to the bridge.

Another off-duty officer happened to be passing as he was driving home and he also stopped to try and assist. By this time officers had put a roadblock in place on the road to prevent traffic from passing underneath the bridge heading northbound.

READ MORE: 'I went to one of Essex's best pub gardens with beautiful surrounding countryside'

ALSO READ: Heroic husband and wife rescue elderly neighbours from burning home

When PC Owen and a colleague arrived at the scene, they found the girl hanging precariously from the bridge. One officer ran onto the southbound carriageway to stop oncoming traffic before running up the embankment to talk to the girl.

PC Owen stood directly underneath the bridge while trying to reassure her. Other officers arrived at the scene to help manage the situation and one of them climbed over the barrier of the bridge.

Despite the officer’s best attempts to rescue the girl she suddenly fell. PC Owen was still underneath her on the road and as the girl fell he moved to make an attempt to soften her landing. He tried to catch her and was successful in breaking the girl’s fall, which prevented her upper body and head from hitting the ground.

First aid was administered to the young girl and care was provided to other witnesses to the fall. Due to the officers' actions, in particular PC Owen softening her blow, the girl only suffered broken bones in her feet and sustained no life-changing injuries. Doctors at Colchester Hospital said that PC Owen’s actions undoubtedly saved her life.

PC Owen recalls: "I’ve got two young daughters myself, both under 4, so of the school uniform… it hit home really. It just looked like we were running out of time to try and stop her. Adrenaline kicks in. It was almost like a bit of desperation really.

"We were all desperate to help her, and we were desperate to try and save her, but at the same time she looked in a desperate situation herself. You just go on autopilot really. I don’t think you truly know how you’re going to react until you’re in that situation.

"I just tried to avoid her head hitting the floor. Basically, her top half was the bit I was trying to protect the most and get my arms underneath. It was just trying to limit the impact really, and try to take the sting out of the fall, was pretty much my best option and the most hope that I had.

"It was a relief afterwards because of the result that we got. I know she broke both of her feet, I believe. I think she landed on one of my feet, and I think she broke her foot as well. I suffered minor injuries, but in comparison to what it could have been, all round, it was so very, very lucky really."

On winning the Award, PC Owen added: "It’s obviously a really proud moment for me and my family. You always hear in the mainstream media and elsewhere about the negative stuff around the police and the public’s feelings about us at times. It does get disheartening. But it’s nice to be recognised.

"I didn’t join the job to receive Awards, I joined the job to try and make a difference and help people. The biggest thing out of this is that the young girl survived and I was able to save her. That’s good enough for me."

Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie said: “You are filled with emotion hearing about these heroic actions from Sam. Police officers do a lot more than just fight crime and what a hero Sam is.

"He acted without thought for his own safety, he put himself in harm’s way by trying to catch the young girl, and he succeeded in saving her life, he was incredibly brave.

"Credit must be given to all the officers who worked together as a team that day and their actions prevented tragic consequences, enabling a vulnerable girl to get the support she needed. We know the girl’s family are understandably incredibly grateful for Sam’s courage that day. We are very proud of them all."

PC Owen will attend the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards on Thursday (May 16). His colleagues Special Constable Jordan Abbott, PC Matt Noone, PC Simon Faraday are Highly Commended for their work during this incident.

If you have been affected by this story, or are feeling low or negative thoughts, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch.