Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's leap off Coronado Bridge

The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that a driver who led police on a slow speed chase stopped on top of the Coronado Bridge and jumped off. It's 200 feet down, and almost always fatal. This guy survived.

    Less than an hour later, Byron exited I-5 at the bridge and stopped his GMC pick-up truck near the highest point and got out. Sadler released Stryker, whom police said bit Byron and pulled him to the ground. Byron then allegedly grabbed the dog and jumped over the concrete barrier into the bay, where he was rescued by harbor police, according to authorities.

I saw part of this unfold last night after dropping customers at the Hotel del Coronado. I was on top of the bridge heading for San Diego when I saw a small truck coming up the other side with four or five police cars following, all with their cherries going. The truck wasn't going very fast. Shortly afterward the bridge was closed.

Today I asked two fellow cab drivers and two customers what they thought about the event, especially the part about the police dog being killed. Both cab drivers said it was ridiculous that a man would be charged for killing a police officer (a local radio news update said a K9 unit is treated like an officer, and killing one is similar to killing a human police officer under law). The customers I asked, a man and a woman from Canada, said the guy who killed the dog should be shot. They were sort of kidding, but were adamant that killing the dog was a serious crime. Interesting difference of opinion.

Here's another post about jumping from the bridge. And here's from an interesting story in the San Diego Reader from the year 2000:

    With the exception of one man in 1992, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office has identified all 202 people known to have committed suicide (by jumping from the Coronado Bridge). Each year the number varies: from none in 1985 to 16 in 1980. About 25 percent of the victims are women -- a breakdown that roughly approximates national statistics for suicide. Most people drive on the bridge, but some walk.

The same story says at least 10 people have survived the jump. The bridge was built in 1969, and the article is from 2000, so the data covers 31 years. With 202 suicides in 31 years, that breaks down to 6.5 per year, on average, or about one every other month. Grim numbers.

Here's something interesting about the Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida:

    The Skyway has the reputation of being a magnet for suicides. It's the third-deadliest bridge in the country for suicides, after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and San Diego's Coronado Bridge.

    But some who jump off the Skyway survive.

    Records show that five people have survived their leaps since the bridge opened in 1987.

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