►report bridge news • ►what's new • by name
►feel suicidal? • search • bridge cams • prevention
bottom of this page • site map • home • contact us
►2019 activity • 2018 • 2017 • 2016 • 2015
2014 • 2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010 • 2009
2008 • 2007 • 2006 • 2005 • 2004 • 2003
2002 • 2001 • 2000 • 1999 • 1998 • 1997-1954
►call to action: the people need to put an end to jumpers.
►is the skyway open?
other jumper bridges• • updated: 01.16.19
#1 jumper structure in the usa, #2 in the world, 220' high
george washington memorial (aurora): seattle, wa.
#2 usa jumper bridge, 167' high
01.26.07, nbcnews.com, ‘suicide bridge’ hurts workers’ mental health.
04.13.00, thestranger.com, jumpers take it to the bridge
coronado: san diego, ca.
#3 usa jumper bridge, 200' high
01.16.19, sandiegouniontribune.com, suicide-prevention spikes to go up soon.
08.09.18, voiceofsandiego.org, suicide barrier pushed until 2019.
06.08.18, latimes.com, suicide-prevention spikes will be installed on coronado bridge.
04.25.18, coronadotimes.com, simple solution to preventing suicides on the coronado.
02.19.18, kpbs.org, lighting project raises concerns suicides could get worse.
08.11.17, sandiegouniontribune.com, opinion - suicide prevention plan stirs debate.
08.11.17, nbcsandiego.com, suicide deterrents for coronado bridge introduced.
05.20.17, sandiegouniontribune.com, new study looks at ways to stop suicides.
10.28.16, coronadotimes.com, senator gets involved to improve safety on bridge.
11.11.15, cbs8.com, local group wants to make coronado bridge suicide proof.
highest bridge in the usa, 1053' high
the bridge deck is about 5.5 times higher than the 190' high skyway deck.
2nd highest bridge in the usa, 900' high
3rd highest bridge in the usa, 876' high
officialbridgeday.com, legal bridge jumping.
'us19' travels across both the skyway bridge and the new river gorge bridge.
#1 aussie jumper bridge
highest bridge in the world, 1854' high
the bridge deck is about 9.75 times higher than the 190' high skyway deck.
separate page on this website
|02.18.17: George Washington Bridge, new york|
nydailynews.com, how the port authority’s ‘suicide squad’ fights for the lives of others every day on the George Washington Bridge
02.22.17, nydailynews.com, port authority police dept. orders suicide prevention cops not to pull potential jumpers to safety
12.30.18, dailymail.co.uk, Manhattan Judge throws out lawsuits from bereaved family members who claim the George Washington Bridge is a 'suicide magnet' - and says jumpers determine their own fate.
|08.17.16: Stopping bridge jumpers. try this|
postandcourier.com, Two Air Force sergeants can’t forget their horror as they watched a man jump to his death from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge a few weeks ago.
Butler and Dick Mappus will never get over their unspeakable sadness since their son Jules took his life the same way last year.
Indeed, the families and friends of 25 people have received the same devastating news that their loved ones jumped from the bridge and died.
Both the Mappuses and the sergeants are trying, in different ways, to make a horrible situation better.
Sgts. Mark Walden and Mitch Utter have suggested putting a hotline phone on the bridge, giving someone on the brink of suicide an easy way to talk with a knowledgeable, caring, trained counselor. The thinking is that a would-be jumper might change his mind with that help.
Such phones were installed on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Fla., and over a six-year period, the suicide rate dropped from 8.3 per year to 6.3. The New York State Bridge Authority added them to all bridges and declared the program a success. In contrast, the Golden Gate Bridge added phones and didn’t see the rate of suicides decrease.
S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said her department will first seek input from mental health experts, suicide prevention groups, law enforcement and local government officials before making a decision about a phone.
That is reasonable.
The Mappuses have made some headway with their ideas. Six cameras provide live feeds from different spots on the bridge, and now the images are kept for four days to give families and authorities a chance to check them when there is a need.
When Jules disappeared, his family waited two and a half weeks before his body was found — all the while wondering and worrying and holding out hope that he was all right.
The Mappuses have not made as much headway on their other idea — which they think could actually save lives. Butler Mappus has asked the Charleston Legislative Delegation to have a steel mesh safety net installed along both sides of the bridge so that a jumper would land in the net, not the river far below.
Bern, Switzerland, installed such a safety net on the Muenster Terrace, and no suicides occurred in the following years.
A similar one costing $76 million is being designed for the Golden Gate Bridge.
Alternately, Mrs. Mappus would like to see the railing on the southbound side of the bridge heightened. It is only 34 inches high, as compared to 76 inches on the northbound side. Jules went over the short railing. His parents think that if it had been higher — and thus more difficult to climb over — he might have had extra time to reconsider.
In Auckland, New Zealand, safety barriers were removed from the Grafton Bridge after having been in place for 60 years. People complained that they were unsightly. In the four years preceding the removal, three people jumped. In the four years after, there were 15 jumpers. The barriers were redesigned and reinstalled, and the suicides stopped.
Mrs. Mappus has appealed to the Charleston Legislative Delegation, and to the S.C. Department of Transportation. They should give her ideas serious consideration soon — before another person jumps to his death.
And statistics suggest it will happen again, without preventative measures. According to a Sunday report by Prentiss Findlay, the number of suicide fatalities in South Carolina are more than double the number of homicides. On average, two people die by suicide every 24 hours.
And while far more often desperate people turn to firearms, suffocation or poisoning, at least 25 have turned to the towering bridge over the Cooper River.
If there is an effective way to stop that number from increasing, it’s time to do it.
|01.21.16: Police hunting for teenagers who encouraged 'suicidal' woman to jump from a bridge.|
manchestereveningnews.co.uk, The youngsters filmed the 39-year-old woman on their phones and shouted 'f***ing jump' several times.
Police are hunting two teenagers who encouraged a ‘suicidal’ woman to jump from a bridge onto a busy road while a good Samaritan tried to help her down.
The young men shouted 'f***ing jump' several times and filmed the 39-year-old woman on their mobile phones as she stood on the edge of Hulme Arch Bridge threatening to jump on Thursday.
Police said the woman became ‘more agitated’ as the two men yelled at her and said their actions also risked the safety of a kind man who had rushed to help her down from the bridge.
When officers approached the youngsters, they fled from the scene.
Inspector Jon Middleton, of Fallowfield neighbourhood policing team, said an investigation is underway to identify the two youths.
They are both described as being black, around 17-18 years old, and were dressed in black clothing with their hoods up.
Insp Middleton said: “Whilst it was happening two males who were on the footbridge opposite filming the incident shouted “F***ing jump” several times and then ran off when approached by officers.
"This made the woman understandably more agitated increasing the risk of serious injury or worse to her and Mr X.”
Insp Middleton said he is also keen to track down the man who helped the woman down from the bridge to give him formal recognition for his ‘considerable bravery’.
Writing on the GMP Fallowfield Facebook page he said he is keen to buy him a coffee as he acted with ‘extraordinary courage and compassion’.
Describing the incident he said the woman had climbed over railings onto a narrow support girder with a long drop onto Princess Road.
He said: “If she had jumped or fallen she would have been seriously injured or killed. The first police officer there was a Detective who happened to be passing.
"He found that a member of the public (whom I shall call Mr X) had climbed over the railing, putting his own life at risk, to hold onto the woman’s arm and prevent her from falling. The Detective, assisted by a passing security guard, held onto Mr X to prevent him from falling himself.
“Meanwhile another member of the public had stopped to assist by speaking to the lady on the bridge. She built a rapport with her, showing great compassion, which bought valuable time for us to deal with the incident.”
When the fire service attended the woman tried to get free of ‘Mr X’ and a police officer climbed over the railings to grab her as a firefighter also climbed over to help.
The woman was pulled to safety and detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to hospital.
Anyone with information that could help to identify the two men is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
If you are ‘Mr X’ and wish to contact police, e-mail [withheld]@gmp.police.uk.
06.01.15: jumper, 2:00am, male, hit rocks, died
Jason Platt, 36
Perrine Memorial Bridge, Twin Falls, ID
06.08.16, Talia P., Damascus, OR., 1. When, in my humble opinion, someone is as mentally tortured as my husband Jason was - they should have options to end their life nonviolently. I wish with all my heart, that we as a society could hear our loved ones voices and let them go peacefully - if they are asking to be let go. 2. It is also my humble opinion that a person be given a break from our money hungry bureaucratic life (bills, child support, housing, job, etc). They should be able to go to a rest home of sorts. A place where someone like my husband might go and lounge around nude (Jason was a nudist) if desired and rest safe and worry free for as long as they need (and the home front would have help paying the bills while said person rests/heals). 3. And lastly but not least - cannabis and other alternative therapies should be accepted into the mainstream health industry. My husband's depression was somewhat managed when he additioned cannabis, not pharmaceuticals to his daily routine.
The jumper was my 36 year old husband. It was only after our marriage that I became aware of Jason's 20 years long battle with depression. This is his June 1, 2015, 2am suicide text and some background information:
"I'm at the perrine bridge in twin falls. I'm parked at the visitors center. I left the keys and my wallet under the driver seat. It's a white 2015 Corolla with no license plate. In spite of everything I said today I don't blame you and I'm sorry. I said those things to try to give myself the motivation to go ahead and end my life. I've been deriving purpose from the hope that I could win you back and live with you again. Thanks for making it clear that that will never happen. There's no coming back from what I did today and suicide is what I've wanted for myself for a long time anyway. My depression makes everyone around me miserable and I was going to ask you to subject yourself and the kids to it all over again. Thanks for taking a stand and making what had to be a difficult decision. I don't really think you're an abuser. My life is stupid and pointless and I've had enough. I never figured out how to get along with the other humans. You can rest assured knowing that our relationship problems were entirely my fault. All you have to tell people is that I pushed for an open marriage even after you made it clear that you didn't want it. You'll have all the sympathy in the world. I have nothing left to offer this world except bitterness and that's why it's going to be a better world after I jump. Please tell my dad I don't want a funeral and I don't want to be buried. Cremation is probably the best option and they can scatter my ashes in a landfill for all I care. There's a couple hundred bucks in my wallet that will hopefully make its way to you. You might be able to get about $5000 if you contact [withheld] and tell him what happened. And there's about $1500 in my zions account that should go to you. You're a good person and I hope the rest of your life is rewarding."
Initially, my husband only threatened suicide about two or three times a month starting approximately a year after our 2011 wedding. However, as time progressed he began not only to threaten but to actually go and stand on bridges (the Portland, OR, area has many bridges) or rooftops of high rise buildings. In January of 2015, Jason started seeing doctors. This is when everything began to escalate. Providence Health and Services, multiple therapists and psychiatrists, the suicide hotline, pharmaceuticals and eventually DCFS, etc. were all involved. Despite the involvement of professionals, Jason received no help. And with no end in sight and no help, I had to finally ask him to move back home with his family in May of 2015 because the suicide threats had progressed to adding our 18 month old child to his jumping plans. I feel it is important to note that prior to adding the pharmaceuticals prescribed by Providence employees, Jason had never threatened anyone but himself. In my opinion, the prescription drugs enhanced and exasperated his condition to a point of insanity. And it was only at this time, I asked him to move out and commit to healing himself before living with us ever again. I promised him if he could remain healthy for a solid year, I would reconsider having him move back in with us. He agreed and moved from our home in Damascus, OR to live with family in Salt Lake City, UT. It was not an easy move for him. During this time I received dozens of texts and calls from him simultaneously begging me to let him come home and cussing me out. A little over three weeks later I received the early morning suicide text. When I got the text, I called the Twin Falls, ID Police Department. They started a search and rescue effort. Around 6 am on June 1, 2015, I received a call from the police letting me know that his body had been found on the rocks below the Perrine Memorial Bridge, Twin Falls, ID by the local search and rescue people. later: I have two pictures I would like to add but I don't know how to send them. One of the photos is a photo my brother took of the bridge when we went to pick up my husband's personal items. The other photo is of Jason standing on the roof of his favorite building where he thought many times of jumping off. If you would like to see them and possibly add them to the story please email me.
(first of all, we are sorry you and your family had to go through such an ordeal. depression and suicide destroy both the individual, as well as the affected family. your story paints a picture of constant torment for everyone concerned. as for your points,
1. for sure people should have the right and option to end what is truly theirs to end. no matter what the reason, all effort can and should be made to facilitate one's own self demise. it's no one's business but theirs.
2. we part with you on the position of debt forgiveness. that should be allotted from the lender, as people take on debt voluntarily. while debt can be debilitating, forced debt forgiveness is akin to theft. we never could understand why students, for example, take on massive debt, then complain about it, and want it forgiven. someone has to pay, why should the lender be penalized?
3. of course cannabis and other alternative therapies should be accepted into the mainstream health industry, when applicable, instead of the horrific and chronic use of addictive pharmaceuticals.
we hope that telling your story helps you cope with what you were dealt. thank you.)
06.09.16, Talia P., Damascus, OR., Thank you Phil, thank you for running a site like this. here are the two pictures I wanted to add.
|05.29.15: girl, 13, jumps off bridge after father cuts off her hair for public shaming.|
inquisitr.com, girl, 13, jumps off bridge after father cuts off her hair for public shaming.
A beautiful 13-year-old girl with long and flowing black hair was publicly shamed by her father for an unknown offense. The father decided that a proper punishment for the offense would be to chop off her gorgeous black hair and post the video online. In the video it shows the girl with her newly chopped off hair as she stands next to a pile of her beautiful black locks on the floor. However, the public humiliation and punishment apparently took an emotional toll on the child, who jumped off a bridge onto a busy interstate just days after the video was uploaded online. Izabel Laxamana, who attended Giaudrone Middle School in Tacoma, Washington, exited the passenger’s seat of her grandmother’s vehicle, climbed over the bridge railing, and jumped “without hesitation” from the bridge before landing on a car below. The young girl had committed suicide.
The News Tribune reports that a girl “jumped or fell” off the bridge at around 5 p.m. on Friday and died in the hospital on Saturday. Since the incident, friends and parents that knew the young girl have taken to social media to express their disbelief and sadness over the passing of Izabel, who many just call “Izzy”.
In addition to expressing grief, others are expressing anger at the “abuse” that Izzy suffered at the hands of her father. A parent who was assisting in Izabel’s science class noted that the girl was crying and that had she known what the student had been through she would have called the police.
“We all got the word at the bridge. Lots of Sobbing and hugging going around. I am glad I was there with my daughter to support her and her feelings through this. If I had know what izzy was crying about in science class when I was there, I would of taken her home with me and called police.”
The “public shaming” that many reference in their outpouring of support of Izzy’s plight occurred via Instagram. The girl’s father can be seen videoing the teen as she stands next to a pile of black hair on the floor. The girl’s story can be read at Tacoma Stories and details of exactly what is happening in the video is described below.
“A few days ago a 15 second video showed up online. It showed a young girl who appeared to be twelve or thirteen years old. She’s standing in a room looking at the phone camera. She appears to be afraid. The camera then shows the floor where there is a pile of long black hair. A taunting male voice says, ‘The consequences of getting messed up? Man, you lost all that beautiful hair. Was it worth it?’ The girl stares at her hair on the floor. She very quietly says, ‘No.’ ‘How many times did I warn you?’ She almost inaudibly says, ‘Twice.’ He then says, ‘Okay.’ as if he has proved a point. The video ends.
Rumors are running high in the school, with some saying that the public shaming video of Izzy’s haircut was not the only action taken against the girl that day. A parent who says their child was a “close friend” of Izabel claims that she saw the horrifying video before it was taken down and that the father also “cut her undergarments” and “destroyed her clothing.”
“Since Friday my 14 year old a close friend of this young girls, began to tell me this story. Saturday saw a link of the video, had been crying and very sad explaining to me that she was told the father not only cut her hair, posted a video, but also had cut her undergarments, destroyed her clothing and yes publicly humiliated her. I watched that video and I was so crushed, the anger in the father’s voice I could hear it, the girls shoulders slightly rolled forward in shame,hands in front if her face, showed she was not only shamed by this horrible man, but she looked very frightened. I am a very proud mother of a Giudrone Middle School child, and hearing that a female child was degraded to a point so bad rips my entire soul out.”
Still, others say there was “continuous” abuse by her father that was never addressed.
Though the details surrounding the events that lead to the unfortunate death of this beautiful girl are unknown, witnesses claim that the girl did in fact jump on her own free will and did so “without hesitation.”
“From the boys who actually witnessed it, said she just ran, jumped up on the fencing and leaped over. No hesitation. just did it.”
As blogger Jack Cameron points out, public shaming may be considered a serious “form of abuse” with very real consequences. What do you think? Is public shaming a form of child abuse? (comments follow article)
Izabel Laxamana, 13.
06.08.15, washingtonpost.com, ‘I could have lost my life, too,’ says driver hit by ‘shamed’ girl who jumped from bridge.
It is the hair that haunts her.
More than a week after the accident, after seeing the tiny girl plummet from the highway overpass, after feeling the girl land on the roof of her car with a sickening thud and a shattering of glass, Chelci Frutos still cannot forget the girl’s hair.
“I saw a long black ponytail as she was falling,” Frutos told The Washington Post. “Afterwards, I kept picturing her falling over and over and over again in my mind.”
Frutos is far from the only person who will have trouble forgetting Izabel Laxamana’s hair. Her beautiful dark locks are at the center of Laxamana’s strange, sad and controversial story.
Laxamana died on May 30, roughly 24 hours after throwing herself off an interstate overpass in Tacoma, Wash., and onto Frutos’s passing car.
As tragic as the 13-year-old’s death is, it’s what happened shortly before the suicide that is causing outrage.
Days before the teen’s death, Laxamana’s father cut off her hair on camera in an apparent attempt to shame his daughter for “getting messed up.”
Suicides, especially teen suicides, are a complex matter. Experts always caution that it’s usually too simple to blame a single event and that the majority of young people who take their own lives have a mental disorder, often “undiagnosed, untreated or both.”
A message Laxamana posted online last August hinted at deeper troubles. “I feel hated most of the time im in school i feel looked down on and i get judged alot” [sic] she wrote. “In a school with so many people its weird to say ‘i feel alone’ but the truth is that you really do feel alone.”
Still, a local blog directly blamed the shaming video for Laxamana’s suicide. And on a Facebook page called “Justice for Izabel,” commenters called for the father to be prosecuted or publicly shamed himself.
The video is just the latest in a growing trend of “shaming” videos, in which angry parents around the country seek to discipline disobedient children by filming their humiliation. The videos are then uploaded to websites like YouTube or Facebook where the child’s friends can watch.
Laxamana’s original “shaming” video has been removed from the Internet, but a bootleg recording of the video appears to show Laxamana in her family’s garage. Sporting a fresh, jagged haircut, she stares at the camera as a man, reportedly her father, Jeff, films her.
“The consequences of getting messed up, man, you lost all that beautiful hair,” he says. The camera then pans down to a tangle of black hair on the ground. “Was it worth it?” the man says.
“No,” Laxamana replies faintly.
“How many times did I warn you?” he asks.
“A lot,” she says in a near whisper.
It’s unclear when, exactly, the video was made, who uploaded it to the Internet, or what role it played in Laxamana’s suicide. Tacoma police could not be reached for comment on Sunday night but told the New York Daily News that the father was not the one who posted the video online.
“She was a 13-year-old that made some poor choices, meaning that she didn’t have to kill herself,” Tacoma police public information officer Loretta Cool told the Daily News, adding that someone else leaked the video online in a tragically misguided attempt to help correct the teen’s behavior.
“It was, ‘I’m going to record this, it’s yours, that way you’ll think twice before you do this again,’” Cool said of the father’s reason for making the shame video. “It was part of the discipline process,” she said. “So she would remember and not do it again.”
On May 29, a few days after the video was made, Laxamana was reportedly riding in a car on South 48th Street in Tacoma when it passed over Interstate 5. She jumped out of the car and hurled herself over the edge of the bridge.
Frutos, a married mother of two young children, was on her way to work as a waitress.
“It was exactly at 3 p.m.,” she remembered. “I left home to go to work early that day because I have a problem with being late. So I was going to make sure that I was on time and it just so happened that I left a half an hour early.”
Frutos was driving north along I-5 when she saw a small shape drop from the bridge.
“I saw a person falling out of the sky,” she told The Washington Post. “I was back far enough to where I saw the whole entire fall. I didn’t actually see her jump, I just saw a person fling over the overpass.
“Excuse my language, but I was like, ‘Is there a f—— person falling out of the sky?'” she said. “That’s exactly what I thought in my head.”
“Once I saw her falling I completely froze,” Frutos said. “I was in shock. I didn’t think it was a real person. I mean, I knew it was. I think I did let off the gas but I didn’t brake. I just held onto the steering wheel and was in shock and watched this girl fall.”
The entire incident happened in the blink of an eye as Laxamana fell roughly 30 feet from the overpass and Frutos sped toward her at 65 miles per hour, unable to react.
“As I got closer I could tell that she was a young person,” Frutos said. “I saw her skin color. And I saw a ponytail.”
For days afterward, the ponytail wouldn’t just haunt Frutos; it would also confuse her. She read about Laxamana’s father cutting off all her hair and wondered if she had been seeing things.
“The story about her dad hacking off her hair I didn’t believe at first because I saw a long black pony tail as she was falling,” Frutos said. “I was literally that close. But I came to find out that it was just a piece of her hair that he left long. She did have a long piece of hair that was left and that’s what I saw.
“As I was driving I wasn’t even watching the cars in front of me. I was just holding the steering wheel as tight as I possibly could because later that day my wrists were hurting,” she said. “As I lost sight of her I knew she was going to hit my car.”
[16 percent of teens consider suicide before graduation. This quest is for them.]
That’s exactly what happened. Laxamana’s tiny, teen body landed on top of Frutos’s 2001 Nissan Altima with so much force it shattered both the front and back windshields.
“It was extremely loud,” Frutos said. “I knew what happened but I didn’t believe what happened, I guess. I didn’t know if I was hurt. It was extremely loud. The glass just shattered all inside of the car.
“The roof caved in half an inch from my head,” she said. “I could have lost my life, too, if she had fallen onto me.”
Frutos was stunned but had the presence of mind not to swerve or slam on the brakes. “After it happened I didn’t brake because I didn’t know if she was still on my car or if she had fallen off,” she said. “I just drifted to a stop and stayed in my lane.
“I was freaking out,” she said. “I was hysterical and screaming at the top of my lungs.
“I put my car in park and just sat there and screamed like bloody murder. I didn’t open the door. I didn’t move I just screamed inside. I reached over because somehow my phone flung to other side of the car. I called my husband and when he answered the phone all he heard was my screaming. I finally got out that somebody jumped off the bridge. He said, ‘Where are you?’ I couldn’t even tell him where I was because I was so shaken up, but eventually I said, ‘I’m on the way to work. You’re not going to miss me!'”
She said an older man came up to her car and helped calm her until the police arrived. Officers helped her out of her totaled car, at which point Frutos realized that Laxamana had fallen off.
Frutos said she feels a strange connection with the girl who came tumbling down from the sky onto her car. She would like to think that her car helped absorb some of the impact, giving Laxamana time to say goodbye to her family before passing away in a hospital the following day.
Frutos even went to Laxamana’s school, Giaudrone Middle School, later that night to see the candlelight vigil.
“There was this little boy obsessively trying to keep her candles lit,” she said. “He said she was like a sister to him, and that kind of made me break down.”
But Frutos admitted she and her family also have other emotions over the incident. Laxamana nearly took Frutos with her to the grave, after all, and the accident totaled the Frutos family’s only car.
“I’m kind of angry about it,” Frutos said. “My family is, too.”
Frutos’s sister has set up a Go Fund Me account to assist the family, but the page has been attacked by people who think it’s insensitive to Laxamana’s memory. “Give me a … break,” one person wrote. “This is gross.”
Frutos said friends and doctors have warned her she could suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. And, after several days of tears, she now mostly feels numb. Normally an effusive person, she finds herself saying little, even to her closest friends. Laxamana’s tiny, tumbling body and crudely cut hair remain seared in her memory.
“The night after it happened, I had a dream that she lived and that I actually went and saw her in the hospital,” Frutos said. “And I told her suicide isn’t a way out. I had a dream that I pretty much helped her get out of that suicidal mindset. And in my dream, she listened to me because I was the person she fell on. So I felt like we did have that connection.”
But then Frutos woke up and learned that Laxamana had died. Her dream had been a cruel joke.
“I’m never going to forget about this little girl,” Frutos said. “But I need to move on with my family and not be stuck on it.”(comments follow article)
A photo of Chelci Frutos’s car after the May 29 incident, in which Izabel Laxamana jumped off a bridge onto a Tacoma, Wash., highway. (Chelci Frutos)
|04.23.15: transgender woman jumps from bridge after ‘constant transphobia’ online.|
A young transgender woman from New Jersey leaped to her death from the George Washington Bridge Thursday as two off-duty cops begged her not to take her life.
"Don't do it! Don't jump!" one policewoman yelled as Rachel Bryk's jumped, leaving behind her shoes, her purse and her ID, a source familiar with the incident told the Daily News.
The 23-year-old, a popular developer for game emulator Dolphin, faced “constant transphobia” and brutal bullying online, she wrote before her suicide.
Police have not recovered Bryk’s body. Teams spotted her corpse floating in the river during their initial search, but it sunk below the water before rescue teams could recover it.
Eight hours after the Thursday afternoon jump, a scheduled tweet appeared on Bryk’s Twitter account: “Guess I am dead. Killed myself. Sorry.”
Weeks before she leapt into the Hudson River, Bryk wrote about the “constant transphobia” she faced online. She left message board 4Chan because of the continual torment, she wrote on April 7 during a brief return to the anonymous website.
“The rest of you don't have to worry though, i'm gonna kill myself soon enough and you won't have to be bothered by me anymore,” she wrote after pointing out the brutality.
That comment spurred only more hatred.
“DO IT, if you're such a weak willed thin skinned dips--t then f--king do it,” one user commented.
Bryk committed suicide a day before Bruce Jenner revealed that he is transgender and transitioning, an announcement hailed as a landmark in transgender awareness and acceptance.
Bryk’s mom said her daughter’s suicide was likely “a combination of everything,” including years of chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Those conditions made it difficult for her to keep a job or regular schedule, Lisa Bryk told Gay Star News.
“While Rachel was certainly bullied and harassed online, that was NOT the reason she committed suicide,” Lisa Bryk wrote on Facebook. “From her own words in many things I read, her illness and chronic pain were the reason.”
Bryk was the 10th most active developer on Dolphin, a gaming software that allows users to play Nintendo Wii and GameCube games on their computers.
“She often would do a lot of the drudge work that no one else would do and attempt features that no one else had time to work on,” Dolphin said in a commemorative statement, which described her as “one of the most helpful developers we've ever had.”
Bryk’s colleagues celebrated the 23-year-old as a dedicated developer and generous friend.
“She was a great programmer who always managed to put a smile on my face. I don't think that there ever will be anyone else quite like her,” one Dolphin developer wrote.
“I didn't just lose another programmer who happened to work on the same project as me — I lost a best friend. I'll never forget you,” another wrote. (article has comments and side links.)
|03.12.15: oregon woman sets self on fire while driving, crashes, then jumps off bridge.|
q13fox.com, EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Police in Eugene, Oregon, say a 39-year-old driver apparently set herself on fire intentionally, crashed her car on a bridge and jumped 40 feet to a park below.
The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene reports that police say the woman is being treated for life-threatening injuries at a Portland-area hospital.
Police say a 911 caller reported Thursday afternoon that a car appeared to be on fire from the inside and the female at the wheel was driving recklessly.
After the car crashed into a bridge guardrail, witnesses told police the woman jumped out — on fire — and began taking her clothes off as she ran to the edge of the bridge.
Traffic police Lt. Doug Mozan says truck drivers tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers and another person tried to pull the woman from the edge of the bridge but she was still able to jump.
03.14.15, registerguard.com, Nurses first to site of bridge jump.
The woman who lit herself on fire Thursday while driving on Interstate 105 before later jumping off the Washington-Jefferson Bridge is still in a Portland-area hospital, being treated for burns and injuries related to the fall.
But the 39-year-old is alive, and although her condition is not currently known, it may have been worse if not for the intervention of Buckley House nurses Lyn East and Kitty Berry, who tended to the woman immediately after she jumped off the bridge before medics arrived on scene.
Buckley House, a detoxification facility program offered through Willamette Family Treatment Services, is located on West Fourth Avenue just across the street from where the incident occurred.
“I heard a commotion in the sobering area of our facility, and I was headed over there anyway, so I ran to see what happened,” explained East, a licensed practical nurse.
“The woman had just fallen from the bridge, so I opened up the back door, and I saw her lying there. Kitty was right behind me, and we both paused briefly, just taking in what was going on.”
Then, she said, it was time to get to work.
No one was immediately running toward the woman, and no one had yet approached her, East said. The two nurses ran over to help her with blankets. The woman, both nurses said, was in bad shape — naked, badly burned, bleeding and trying to move.
“We were shouting at her not to move. She was trying to get up and raise her torso. We were telling her to stay still,” said Berry, who is a registered nurse.
Adrenaline and shock, both nurses agreed, may have been the reason the victim wasn’t feeling any pain.
Still, they kept her covered and assessed her injuries. Berry managed her spine and airway, while East looked over other injuries and possible broken bones. The woman’s back, East said, was severely burned.
They kept the injured woman talking, asking her questions to keep her aware. She was able to say and spell her name, East said, as well as provide her date of birth.
Within five minutes, police officers were under the bridge with them. Medics joined quickly after.
And although the incident was tragic and scary, both women agree, each expressed feeling grateful to have been in the right place at the right time and to have been given the opportunity to participate.
“Instinct takes over,” Berry said. “I feel fortunate to work with a wonderful crew.”
03.15.15, registerguard.com, Key eyewitness recounts fire, crash, jump from bridge.
More details emerged on Saturday from a key eyewitness who placed the first 911 call about a highly unusual traffic crash and possible suicide attempt last week on the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge.
Eric Van Dyke described a harrowing and traumatic scene on the bridge, where Mary Gawenda, an apparently suicidal 39-year-old, crashed her car, which she had set on fire, and then jumped off the bridge on Thursday.
Gawenda’s jump came despite desperate attempts to stop her — during a frantic three- to five-minute period. at least five individuals stopped their cars to help, Van Dyke said. During that time, Van Dyke, along with two other men, used their own fire extinguishers to put out the blaze that had engulfed Gawenda’s car because they mistakenly believed that a child was in the back seat. After dealing with the fire, Van Dyke saw Gawenda jump from the bridge.
Gawenda, who fell 40 feet, is being treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed Saturday. She remains in critical care.
Van Dyke’s account contradicts earlier police and media reports. Gawenda herself was not on fire when she emerged from the car, though her skin was badly burned, he said. Gawenda removed her clothes as she tried to get away from people who were trying to hold and stop her — not because they were burning, Van Dyke said.
Eugene police confirmed that Van Dyke was the person to make the initial 911 call, but a department spokeswoman said she couldn’t confirm other elements of his account Saturday because the case remained open.
Van Dyke, a 38-year-old longtime local resident, said he came forward to provide the public with more information about the incident and to thank the other people who tried to intervene, most of whose names he doesn’t know.
“Police officers were telling me they’d never seen anything like it,” Van Dyke said. “I’m in pain, and I’m lost ... I just want to thank everyone who stopped and tried to help.”
Van Dyke said he’s had several sessions with a crisis counselor since Thursday’s incident. He’s also hardly slept, he said, because he’s been experiencing “night terrors.”
“In my sleep, I jump and try to catch her as she’s falling,” he said.
Van Dyke said the incident began on westbound Interstate 105 in Springfield early Thursday afternoon. He noticed Gawenda’s car because she cut him off, he said. Right as their cars were crossing over Interstate 5, Van Dyke said he saw that Gawenda was hopping back and forth between the driver’s and passenger’s seat while maintaining a speed of about 80 mph. He dialed 911 to report a reckless driver. Then he noticed that Gawenda was holding a yellow bottle of lighter fluid, which she was spraying all over the inside of her car, he said.
When Gawenda lit the fire shortly afterwards, Van Dyke said he followed her for almost four miles while trying to get the 911 dispatcher to quickly send help. Van Dyke said Gawenda, who still was hopping between the two front seats, kept glancing into the backseat of her car. Because he couldn’t see a person’s head above the seat, Van Dyke said he became fearful that a small child was in the vehicle.
“At that point, I’m telling the 911 dispatcher that she wants to die, that this is a suicide mission,” he said.
As they approached the Delta Highway exit, Gawenda’s car had a minor collision with a box truck and then the center median, Van Dyke said.
Despite the midday hour, Van Dyke said there were almost no other cars on the road. “I’ve never seen that area so empty,” he said. “I thank the Lord it was.”
As their cars reached the Washington-Jefferson Bridge, Van Dyke saw Gawenda yank her steering wheel to the right, crossing two traffic lanes and hitting the guardrail hard, he said. Van Dyke said it looked like “she wanted to drive through it.”
Instead, the front right side of her car was crushed while Gawenda’s car “spun around two to three times,” Van Dyke said. The car’s dislodged bumper fell and injured a woman below the bridge, police said.
Gawenda emerged from the passenger side door and started to run away. Van Dyke said he grabbed her initially, but she fought her way out of his grasp. Fearing for the child he thought was in the car, Van Dyke and two other drivers turned their attention to putting out the car fire, using four fire extinguishers they had in their vehicles.
“The flames were 20 to 30 feet high,” he said. “The front window had completely melted.”
Gawenda, meanwhile, ran south, and Van Dyke said she wasn’t on fire when she left the car. She crossed back and forth across the three lanes of traffic. At least two other people tried to restrain her, Van Dyke said, but Gawenda violently resisted. Eventually, she was able to get on the other side of the guardrail on the west side of the bridge. Though several people tried to hold her and stop her from jumping, Gawenda fell backward on to a concrete path below.
“As soon as I saw her land, I thought she was dead,” Van Dyke said.
Instead, two nurses from Buckley House provided Gawenda almost immediate medical care. Police and medics arrived shortly afterward.
Van Dyke said he’s glad Gawenda survived. He’s been trying to get updates on her condition in the past two days. But he said he wishes the incident had played out differently.
“This is going to be with me for a long time,” he said.
►2019 activity •
2014 • 2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010 • 2009
2008 • 2007 • 2006 • 2005 • 2004 • 2003
2002 • 2001 • 2000 • 1999 • 1998 • 1997-1954
►report jumper news
jumpers by name
audio • videos
research for us
top of this page
►call to action