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Dressed as Mrs. Claus, this off-duty Virginia officer helped a woman in crisis

Posted at 11:57 AM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 11:57:48-05

FREDRICKSBURG, Va. (WTVR) — Mrs. Claus was in the right place at the right time ahead of Christmas.

Fredericksburg Sheriff's Department Lt. Tabatha Merell was dressed in character when she noticed someone leaning over the side of a bridge in Virginia.

She pulled her car over and turned her lights on.

“In that moment, she had not only her upper body over the railing but she also had lifted her left leg and had it dangling over as well. In that moment, I knew it was an emergency, it wasn’t someone looking over the water,” Merrell said.

Merrell called dispatch to let them know that she needed units in uniform because she was dressed as Mrs. Claus still from an earlier holiday event.

Sgt. Aimee Lynch soon arrived at the bridge.

Lynch and Merrell then worked together to help talk the woman down.

“For me, knowing we were able to help this female and give her comfort and reassuring voices that we were there to help her and keep her safe, it’s everything,” said Lynch.

The incident also served as a reminder to the officers that while there is a lot of hope around the holidays, there can also be a lot of pain.

The officers hope that people now use this experience as a reminder of what a gift life is and how important it is to let people know that you care.

“Call it fate. Call it right place, right time, wrong attire, but there is a reason I went that route,” Merrell said.

Officials said that the woman who Merrell and Lynch helped at the bridge is now getting help.

Anyone who is struggling can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.

This story was originally reported by Maggi Marshall on WTVR.com.