Tuesday, July 24, 2012


As I went into SF last Thursday I hit some traffic as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.  I neared the incident that was slowing all of the traffic down, it was a jumper.  He had crawled over the railing and was holding onto a post, facing inwards, towards the passing traffic, with his back to oblivion.  There were two cops kneeling on the sidewalk talking to him.  He was standing upright, wearing a black hoodie, staring straight ahead, his head barely even with the sidewalk.  I passed slowly, as did all of the other cars.  Once past him, and the cops negotiating with him, traffic sped back up.  I pulled around towards the city, towards Lombard street heading into Union Square, looking backwards from the offramp as best as I could.  Emergency vehicles were rushing to the bridge with their lights and sirens blazing.  I was unable to tell if he had jumped, or if he had been pulled in, or if he was still on the outer side of the railing, waiting.

San Francisco Bay is part of the largest landlocked harbor in the world.  Depending on the state of the tides there are very strong currents forcing most everything that falls from the bridge either into the harbor or far out to sea.  The free fall from the bridge's edge is approximately a 245 foot drop.  Jumpers hit speeds of about 75 miles per hour, falling for almost 4 seconds.  The success rate of jumpers there is 98%, the highest of anywhere in the world.