sfgate.com, SAN FRANCISCO -- A 17-year-old boy on a
field trip with his Sonoma County high school class leaped from the Golden Gate
Bridge on Thursday, but survived and was able to swim to shore with a surfer who
went out to rescue him, authorities said.
The boy is a junior at Windsor High
School whom officials did not identify because of his age. Some students said he
might have leaped to impress his classmates, but for now the California Highway
Patrol is investigating the matter as an attempted suicide, said CHP Officer
The boy jumped at 11:15 a.m. from the east sidewalk near the
south tower, the CHP said. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where
he was expected to survive.
Some witnesses said he broke his tailbone and damaged his lungs in the fall, but
a Windsor Unified School District press release said he suffered no severe
injuries beyond bruising and tenderness. Hospital officials said they cannot
release specific information.
Frederic Lecouturier, 55, said he was surfing
under the bridge when he saw the boy drop into the waves.
"I thought, 'Well,
he's going to die,' and then it was a miracle when he popped up alive," said
Lecouturier, of San Rafael. "I paddled out there, and he told me he jumped 'for
"That's when I lost it and told him what he did was wrong, that life is
precious, and he should not take risks like that. I mean, he's a kid, he's got
his whole life ahead of him."
Lecouturier said the boy was about 5 feet tall,
"built like a wrestler" and had a brown ponytail. "There was a stiff wind coming
out of the south, and I think that broke his fall and helped save him," he said.
Surviving the drop was remarkable considering the spot the student leaped from
is more than 200 feet off the water - and 99 percent of the estimated 1,500-plus
people who have jumped from the bridge since it opened in 1937 died from the
Seven people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge this year,
officials estimate. Last year, the count was 32.
Golden Gate Bridge District spokeswoman Mary Currie said the number of people
attempting suicide off the span has grown from about 20 a year in the early
2000s to about 30 annually in the past few years.
The district has plans to install safety nets on the bridge, but the final
design is not complete and the installation is a couple of years away at best,
Rumors tore through the student body and the common thread was
that it appeared the boy jumped of his own accord and that onlookers were upset
by the experience. The boy recently transferred from another school, many said.
"He did it to try to look cool," said one classmate, who did not want to be
identified. "He said he'd jumped off bridges before." Another student who said
he was on the scene tweeted that students tried to stop the boy before he
Rardin said the boy jumped as he was walking on the bridge with about
45 other students on a school field trip.
"I've heard a bunch of things about how this happened, but we haven't come
to a conclusion yet," he said. "I do know he's very lucky to be alive."
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