ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – When a citizen stole a police car in October and crashed it into a tree, no one predicted what would happen next.
It’s an ending like no other, that the woman at the center shared exclusively with FOX 2. Part of her thinks she should be dead after the incident. But in the aftermath of her survival, she believes there’s a message beyond the sensation – a message about mental health.
Asiana looked at the video and said, “That’s not me, you know. That’s not me.”
But it was her.
The 28-year-old shook her head as she looked at the clip of her Oct. 9 breakdown in Velda Village Hills.
“I’m glad to be alive and breathing right now,” she said.
The North County Police Cooperative’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) responded. A witness captured video from his mobile phone nearby, while police body cam documented the interaction.
“We’re going to call an ambulance for you, okay?” an officer says on the body camera.
Within seconds, she ran away, then turned around towards the police car. She opened the door, got inside, and drove off with the officers running behind her, screaming.
Asiana fell out of the car. The car hit a tree and then rolled backwards, hitting another tree.
She said she only remembers small pieces from that day.
“I wasn’t on my medication, so that tied in,” she said.
She’s not supposed to be on the wrong side of the law. She says she served six years in the U.S. Army, and provided pictures with her in uniform.
“I noticed in the last couple years of service that I did have something that I had to deal with,” she said.
The officers that day never lost their cool. At one point after the crashes, an incredulous neighbor asked the officer, “Is she going to jail for a long time!?”
The officer answered: “No, she’s got something else going on.”
You can hear the officers using humor to cope.
“Well, that sucks,” one of the officers says after having a chance to soak in what happened. “It was a brand-new police car.”
“It could’ve been worse. She could have hit somebody,” one of the officers responds, adding, “Silver lining.”
As North County Police Cooperative Major Ron Martin explained, “Once it was over, it was over. (The officers) remained professional. They de-escalated. And I think that’s exactly what society is asking us to do.”
“What we’ve asked our police officers to do in a mental health crisis is to be able to determine it is a mental health crisis in about three seconds, and you better react the right way,” he said. “In other professions, medically speaking, they have weeks, months, a year to do some type of assessment.”
“I just love how they handled the situation. They were really patient with me, and they got me the help I actually needed,” Asiana said.
She wears an ankle bracelet. She’s entered a special diversion program through St. Louis County’s Mental Health Court. She’s invited us to attend her court hearings even though they’re typically closed to the public.
“…just to let people know that there is help and that they’re not alone,” she said.
Sgt. Tony Moutray, whose car Asiana crashed that day, wanted to let her know after our interview that she’s not alone.
“Hey! How are you?” They exchanged greetings with smiles as Asiana said, “I’m doing fine. Good seeing you again.”
Asiana told Sgt. Moutray, “I love how positive you were.”
“As long as you’re doing better today than you were that day, right?” Moutray said as Asiana responded, “Yes. Haaa. I appreciate it. You just don’t know how much I appreciate it.”
“Everybody has a story, and everybody wakes up the same every morning,” Moutray said. “I don’t know her story and she doesn’t know mine, but somebody’s going to have to take the helm and keep the calm.”
We will bring you updates as we follow Asiana through mental health court – coverage that will be unprecedented because these are typically confidential cases. Asiana is inviting us into the process to help others.
If you need immediate help or having suicidal ideation, please contact any of these agencies or hotlines.