Video Shows Hero Officer Dane Norem Save Jumper Who Was Stabbing Him
Riverside, CA – California Highway Patrol Officer Dane Norem was working his usual night shift on October 25, 2012, when he became involved in an incident that would change his life.
He received a call of a “distraught” man, who had climbed the fence on the La Sierra overpass, and was apparently about to jump, according to the Desert Sun. Officer Norem knew that he was the closest officer and responded.
He was the first officer to arrive, and saw a man, later identified as Javier Hernandez, sitting on the sidewalk. Hernandez got up as Officer Norem’s cruiser approached, and started climbing the fence.
Officer Norem rushed to stop Hernandez from jumping, grabbed his legs, and held on. He didn’t know that Hernandez had a pocketknife until he felt the knife go into his face.
He said, “When I got struck in the face, it didn’t really hurt. It felt like I had been punched and it felt wet, like a water balloon had popped. I came to figure out later that was my eye.”
He continued to hang on to Hernandez, who continued stabbing him.
San Bernardino Police Sgt. John Walker, who was off-duty, had seen Officer Norem pass him while responding. He turned around, went to the scene, and saw the struggle.
He rushed to help, and at Officer Norem’s direction grabbed his baton. He did, and began trying to knock the knife out of Hernandez’ hand.
Riverside Police Officer Nathan Asbury, who was off-duty, and a few civilians stopped to help. Another CHP officer arrived, and shot Hernandez with a bean bag. Finally, Hernandez fell to the ground.
The incident had lasted 3 and 1/2 minutes, and Officer Norem had been stabbed seven times, including once in his eye. He has not been able to talk publicly about what happened until after Hernandez’ prosecution.
Hospital doctors told Officer Norem’s wife, Amanda, that the other stab wounds on his back, elbow, and shoulder were superficial, but his eye injury was complex. They performed surgery on his eye, specifically the iris where he was stabbed, but it left him unable to contract under bright lights.
Three months after his injury, he went back to work on light duty, where policy said that he couldn’t wear his uniform, or carry his badge or his gun. He did odd jobs at the station, but it wasn’t his dream. He wanted to be back on the street, where his heart was.
Officer Norem received many awards for saving Hernandez’ life. He tried to return to full duty in 2014, but the CHP said that his vision wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t sure but wondered if he might have to take medical retirement.
Finally, in 2013, he found a possible solution, in the form of a new state-of-the-art procedure where doctors were replacing damaged irises with special prosthetics and an artificial iris that could block light and restore vision.
But another obstacle appeared, when the state of California denied his workmen’s comp claim, on the basis that the surgery was unproven. He got an attorney, and eventually the surgery was allowed.
The surgery, which was part of an FDA trial, worked, and Officer Norem’s vision was restored. He then began taking steps to return to active duty with the CHP. He took classes to regain his certification, and was tested for his pursuit driving and shooting.
Officer Norem did so well on his firearm qualifications that the CHP asked him to take them a second time. He returned to full duty in October, 2015, on the same night shift, and in the same area he patrolled before.
Hernandez was charged with attempted murder of a police officer. In August, 2016, he was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility in 18 years.
You can see the video of the incident below. WARNING: Graphic Content.