The Galveston Police Department dispatcher called to let us know to be on the lookout for a woman who reportedly was on the way to Galveston to commit suicide on the beach, likely either Stewart Beach or East Beach.
Supervisor/Officer Michael Lucero was just starting his shift and, recognizing the urgency of the call, decided to go directly out to East Beach to see if anyone matching the description was in the area. He notified our dispatch that he’d be on the way to check, and about four or five minutes later called in to say that he’d located someone matching the person and vehicle description and requested backup. Dispatch responded saying that Police and EMS were enroute. About two minutes later he called again saying he was struggling with the person and asked that we send the closest Beach Patrol unit to assist until EMS and the Galveston Police Department arrived. Shortly afterwards, Beach Patrol Lieutenant Austin Kirwin called in that he was on location and that Lucero had everything under control.
Michael later told me that he was afraid the woman was actively committing suicide. When he approached the passenger side of the car, he noticed the bottle of alcohol she was drinking. She tried to drive off, but he quickly reached into the car and took her keys. She then grabbed a big container of pills and started trying to cram them into her mouth. He grabbed the container and, as they struggled for it, he made a quick call on the radio for assistance. By the time Lt. Kirwin arrived Michael had both the keys and the pills and was standing by the car. Police, EMS, and Fire showed up shortly afterwards and she was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
There are so many ways the woman could have lost her life that day. Had Michael Lucero decided to quickly check in at headquarters before checking the park, had he not proactively entered the car and grabbed the keys, or reacted slower in recognizing that she was about to take the pills, the situation could have gone a much different way.
Michael has been a full time Beach Patrol Supervisor for 5 years and chose to go through the law enforcement academy a couple of years ago to enhance his capabilities on the beach. He says, “I chose to work for Beach Patrol because I grew up competitive swimming my whole life, and in high school all my friends from my swim team worked here in the summer. So, during my Senior year of high school I decided to come down and try out, and I’ve been here ever since.”
The Beach Patrol and the millions that visit our beaches are lucky to have someone like Michael and his fellow guards and responders from Police, Fire, and EMS looking out for them when they visit.
Michael recently qualified to represent Galveston at the United States Lifesaving Association National Championships in Virginia Beach, Va. Wish him luck!