Carnegie Medal Presentation to Ashley Harkins

Connecticut State Police Colonel Daniel Loughman, right, presented the Carnegie Medal to police Sergeant Ashley Harkins on May 29 at the Connecticut State Police annual awards ceremony held at the state police academy.

Harkins received the Carnegie Medal in March after she saved a distressed woman from falling from the Baldwin Bridge in Old Lyme, Connecticut, on Nov. 27, 2023.

A suicidal woman in her early 60s had climbed a 10-foot safety fence on the Baldwin Bridge and sat on a 9-inch-wide concrete ledge that was 80 feet above the Connecticut River. Harkins, 37, had finished her shift and was off-duty but responded to the 911 call along with another sergeant. The other sergeant attempted to talk to the shivering woman while Harkins scaled the fence behind her with no safety equipment or ropes. She descended the other side to the narrow ledge, scooted a few feet toward the woman, and then maneuvered to have one arm and one leg on either side of her. She gripped the fence and secured the woman to the fence with her body to keep her from falling. Harkins helped place the woman’s foot on her thigh for leverage while she grasped the fence with one hand. Harkins pushed the woman up by her foot so she could climb the fence to waiting officers. The woman was cold from exposure to wind and temperatures in the low 50s but was otherwise uninjured. She was taken to a hospital for emergency mental health evaluation. Harkins was not injured during the incident.

Loughman is Harkins’ commanding officer. In an Instagram video about why she joined the state police, Harkins cited the variety of calls she gets as a state trooper.

“Everyday you don’t know what you’re going to do,” she said. “There’s a lot of variety day to day, but you’re still able to build relationships with the public and other members of law enforcement.”