Hero officer’s father died in crash off Causeway years before he rescued couple

Hero officer’s father died in crash off Causeway years before he rescued couple

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Causeway Police officer Christian Coyle jumped in the water after the pickup truck went in at mile 18 off the southbound span.

Coyle, Causeway Police Officer Colt Bruhl and motorist assistance officer Grayson Crespi were sent to the scene at 6:01 a.m. on Tuesday after a Causeway Bridge commuter called police to say someone went over the side.

“A female called and said a truck went off the side 18.7 miles southbound,” dispatcher Joy Schaeffer said.

Coyle, who’s own father died in a Causeway accident when Coyle was 12-years-old, always wanted to be a Causeway Police officer to help others.

He took off his service belt and jumped in the water and helped safely rescue the man, the woman and the dog.

“My first reaction was get the people out as quick as possible. I hooked the rope ladder up and went into the water,” Coyle said.

Through it all, memories of the 2005 accident which took his dad’s life and injured him were fresh on his mind.

"I had lacerations and I was knocked unconscious. This was my way of giving back. That’s why I became a law-enforcement officer to come work for the Causeway that was the first time I ever rescued anybody. Training helped out a lot, this was second nature. I didn’t even have to think about it,” Cole said.

The rescued man and woman are identified as Clarence Abner, of Kenner, and Kylie Sawyer of LaPlace. Abner said he was looking at his Google Map when he lost control of his truck.

They were able to get out of the truck and hold onto a spare tire until Coyle assisted in getting them lifted out of the water. Everyone appeared to be doing fine after the crash. However, the accident closed the southbound side of the bridge for about an hour.

Coyle said this was his way of giving back.

“My ultimate goal is to make sure what happened to me never happens to anyone else,” he said.

Causeway officials have begun raising the guard rails on the bridge, which they say could have kept the pickup truck from going overboard in the first place.

The bridge will be closed on Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. so crews can recover the crashed vehicle.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office also assisted with the rescue.

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