The figure in white suddenly appeared out of nowhere, huddled in the middle of the lane on the dark street.
Responding to assist another officer at the scene of a suspected DUI a few miles away, Cypress police officer Juan Robles was driving down that same lane on Cerritos Boulevard between 45 and 49 mph.
The figure in white was about 80 feet away when she appeared in Robles’view.
His black-and-white was moving at 70 feet per second.
Tragedy was a very real possibility —and a virtual certainty, with someone less experienced behind the wheel.
It was just after 3 a.m. on July 4, and Robles was more than 9 1/2 hours into a 12-hour shift.
A dramatic video released today by the Cypress Police Department shows what happens next: Robles, his training in evasive driving techniques kicking in, braked and sharply swerved to the left, then the right.
His patrol car fish-tailed between the woman in the road and the narrow space between her and the car out of which she had stumbled.
Top brass at the Cypress PD say Robles’ lightning-quick reaction almost certainly prevented the woman from being struck and suffering serious injury —or worse.
“The average person’s perception and reaction time is 1.5 seconds,”said Steven Ramsey, commander of the Operations Division at the Cypress PD.
“At 3:03 in the morning, I can guarantee you (Robles) was very tired. For him to react so quickly is remarkable. If he had just hit his brakes and not swerved, his car would have slid right into her.
“What he did, especially at that time of the morning, was a tough thing to pull off.”
The video of footage taken from Robles’patrol car shows the dramatic near car-versus-pedestrian collision.
The footage begins with Robles turning left into the No. 2 westbound lane of two-lane Cerritos Avenue from Walker Street.
The headlights of an oncoming car can be seen in the distance.
Turns out that car was not moving.
The driver of that car, the woman’s husband, had stopped in the median, facing Robles’rapidly approaching vehicle. The man’s wife had become disoriented and exited the car.
Focused on the DUI call, Robles didn’t pay much attention to the headlights as he approached.
Then, in a flash, he saw the crouched figure in white —and took action to avoid hitting her.
All cops undergo training in accident avoidance at the Emergency Vehicle Operations Center and continually keep their skills sharp through regular training, said Jackie Gomez-Whiteley, Cypress’chief of police.
“This incident illustrates the importance of ongoing training of our officers and how fortunate we are to have officers like Robles who are so committed to keeping their skills sharp and staying alert,”Gomez-Whiteley said.
“We only hire the best and the brightest, and Robles is an example of that.”
Robles, 25, has been with the Cypress PD since October after transferring from the Bakersfield PD, which he joined in October 2011.
“When my patrol car was fishtailing, it seemed like forever,”Robles recalled. “It was more instinct than anything else. I’m sure I just reverted back to my training.”
Robles stayed on the scene for a couple of minutes and continued on the DUI call after the husband assured him that his wife would be OK and that they were headed home. They declined his offer to call for ambulance.
“This was the most adrenaline-packed incident I’ve ever been involved with while driving patrol,”Robles said.