Tempe police recruit who survived plunge off Loop 202 in 1999 recounts ordeal

- Nearly 20 years ago, a Valley woman fell 60 feet off the Loop 202.

In August 1999, Stephanie Ameiss, a Tempe Police Department recruit at the time, stopped on the freeway to help people involved in an accident. During that process, she jumped over the highway median to get out of the way of an oncoming car that didn't see the stopped traffic.

It was dark, and she didn't realize that she jumped into a space in the raised highway. Ameiss plunged 60 feet to the ground.

Officers on-scene at the time thought Ameiss died. She survived, but suffered from extremely critical injuries.

"When I got the flashlight, I shined it on her and legs were moving," said a man who was interviewed at the scene of the 1999 incident. "I could see she was breathing."

"I remember a little bit of being super angry," Ameiss recounted. "I was really angry when I landed. That's part of the brain damage."

Ameiss had serious injuries to her head, spine, and internal organs. The worst, a snapped elbow. Doctors told Ameiss they'd have to amputate her arm, that she may never walk the same again.

Ameiss, however, didn't believe them.

"I knew I would walk again," said Ameiss. "I knew I would be a police officer again."

"Stephanie kept pushing me to push her harder, and that's what's incredible," said Chris Reynolds. "While it took us a long, long time, she demonstrated abilities none of us thought she would obtain,"

After years of pure grit, patience, and working with the right doctors and therapists, Ameiss can now run marathons and hike. She went on to become a police officer, like she dreamed, and retired from the Gilbert Police Department.

Ameiss says her purpose in life is to serve and inspire others.

"Never give up someone tells you you can do it its what you can do what you tell yourself," said Ameiss.

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