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

Posted at 11:19 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 11:29:08-05

FREDRICKSBURG, Va. -- The holiday season is often called the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also end up being an incredibly emotional and stressful time for many. Members of Fredericksburg law enforcement learned this lesson firsthand earlier this week while responding to a situation.

Lt. Tabatha Merell with the Fredericksburg Sheriff's Office had been stepping into the role of Mrs. Claus on Tuesday night. She decided to take a different route home and noticed someone leaning over the side of a bridge.

Feeling that something wasn't right, Merrell pulled over on the bridge 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.

Mrs. Claus

Merrell then called dispatch to let them know that she needed units in uniform as when she pulled over, she was still dressed as Mrs. Claus.

Sgt. Lynch with the Fredericksburg Police Department soon arrived at the bridge, later describing the moments to come as nerve-racking.

Lynch and Merrell then worked together to help talk the woman down. Once they were able to successfully do so, they described it as one of the best feelings in the world.

“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 Sgt. 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 two believe it is important to bring awareness that there are people who are suffering and that the holidays can bring that emotion to the forefront.

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 reach the 24/7 hotline by dialing 988.



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