Fatal jump from Foresthill Bridge raises concern

2:45 AM, May 5, 2011   |    comments
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Foresthill Bridge

AUBURN, CA - Dozens of people have jumped to their death from the Foresthill Bridge near Auburn.

The latest incident happened Wednesday morning, in the midst of a multi-million dollar seismic retrofitting project.

Placer County Sheriff's Department said the 26-year-old man from Oregon jumped around 11 a.m. A construction worker witnessed it.

This was the second suicide from the bridge this year. 

"This bridge is an epidemic pull for people to come here and end their life," Auburn resident Mamie-Rae Carpenter said. "I think every two months someone has jumped off the bridge or someone has tried to stop them."

Carpenter believes, to date, 64 people have committed suicide by jumping off the Foresthill Bridge.

All across the Foresthill Bridge are call boxes. Inside is the crisis hotline number.

"I saved one woman in September. I was able to use the telephone and by the grace of God got the Placer County Sheriff's Department and the CHP to save her from taking her life," Carpenter said. "I have seen them (law enforcement) working with people. I have seen a 15-year-old take his life. I have been out here when a 21-year-old has taken her life."

Carpenter is a avid runner. Her workouts take her across the bridge and on the trails nearby.

Crews are working on a $74 million seismic retrofitting and repainting job. They're also adding a 2-foot wire mesh fence to the current 4-foot bridge railing to prevent future suicides. When it's done, the railing would be 6-feet high.

"The fence will help," Carpenter said. "I believe two more feet will make a difference and us as human beings can reach out to someone and save them."

There's been a push to raise the bridge railing to eight feet and to curve it inward to prevent future suicides.

The seismic retrofitting project is expected to take three years to finish.

By Suzanne Phan, sphan@news10.net

Twitter: @suzannephan

News10/KXTV

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