Man saves suicidal woman from Imperial Beach Pier

Posted at 11:28 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 02:28:52-05

A man visiting San Diego risked his own life to save a woman drowning in the ocean.

Juan Salazar was walking on the Imperial Beach Pier with his family when he noticed a woman floating face down in the water.

He jumped twenty feet over the rail to the water below, but he never thought the woman would not welcome his help.

“Refusing help. She was attempting suicide,” Salazar said. “She didn’t want any help. She just said ‘leave me alone.'"

Salazar refused to give up, and tried to get her back to shore. Nearby surfers and lifeguards rushed to help him.

“Honestly it was the longest seven minutes of my life," he said. "I mean, I thought I was going to drown myself.”

Salazar's brother recorded the rescue on his cell phone and took pictures from the pier. Salazar says it's hard to look at now.

“It’s a little overwhelming seeing people nowadays trying to commit suicide,” he said. “Yes, not to take life for granted. And to enjoy every day of your life and to help others that are in need of help.”

Lifeguards say this is the third time someone has tried to hurt themselves by jumping off the pier in about a decade, and that the woman was taken to the hospital and placed on a 72-hour hold.

Salazar has a few scratches and cuts from the rescue, and won't let anyone call him a hero.

“(I did) what anybody else would do," Salazar said. "Jump in and help her.”