Saturday, May 14, 2005

Jumper

This day was one of those that I'd never imagined I'd see.

It started out as a beautiful day out on Hood Canal catching shrimp. We ended up catching 92 shrimp. A halfway reasonable haul, but the real fun was being out on the boat with Darrin, Karey and Mickaela. If you've never been out on a boat for the day with good people, lots of laughs, sunshine and the stench of a catfood and mackerel bait slurry, I highly recommend it. The season ended at 1pm and we headed in shortly after. Being tired and a bit sunburned, Karey and I decided to head on home once we got something cold to drink and the shrimp divided up.

We stopped at Karey's parents house to pick up B-man and then continued on our way home. In order to get home, we have to cross the Tacoma Narrow's bridge. Many many years ago, this was the bridge that fell down in a storm. Karey's Grandfather was one of the last off the bridge and her Grandmother hasn't driven over it since. Today was much like any other day crossing the bridge. Morons who can't seem to remember to increase the gas, to compensate for the bridge's engineered incline, cause erratic slowdowns and weird backups. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, things weren't too bad.

A little over halfway across the bridge (on the Tacoma side, as I was later told), all of the sound in the world was shut out and things went into slow motion. I'm not sure what made me look, but I noticed a car stopped on the opposing lane. Behind the car was a woman who seemed to be enjoying the view. This is terribly unusual, since this is a 4 lane bridge (two lanes going each way) with *NO* shoulder. You don't stop on the bridge unless it's a mechanical failure or a life and death emergency. As we got perpendicular to her, she had hiked both feet over the ledge and was within a *HAIR'S* breath of heaving over the edge. My eyes were seeing it, and some part of my brain was perceiving it, but the rest of myself was having trouble believing that this was actually happening. I jammed on the brakes and laid on my horn. Realizing that a honking horn was going to do nothing to keep her from committing suicide, I jumped out of my car and ran across the middle two lanes to her. I honestly can't remember if I even bothered to look for oncoming traffic.

As a computer geek, you never train for something like this. Purely on instinct, I yelled to her that she didn't want to do what she was doing. She turned to me and yelled, "WHY?!?!?!". At that point my instincts told me that I had a small window of opportunity and I grabbed her around the waist and pulled her down off of the ledge. At that point, another driver jumped out of his car and helped me restrain her. A lot of things go through your head at that point, but mainly I was wondering why the heck no one was calling 911. In reality, about 20 people were doing just that at that very moment.

To respect the victim's privacy, I won't go into anything specific about what she said while we restrained her. What I can say is that she tried hard to get away from the two of us in order to complete her suicide. After what seemed like *FOREVER* (but was probably only 5 or so minutes), a whole platoon of police descended on the area. The woman was cuffed and safely taken into custody. We gave our information and reports to the officers and each of us went on our way.

I don't know why she tried to do what she did. I don't think it's fair to her to speculate about what got her to this point. I hope that the doctors who treated her tonight truly realized where she was at and were able to do something to help her.

During the event, one of the overriding thoughts going through my head was that with proper treatment, she would be glad that she wasn't successful. It reminded me a lot of when my son wants to do something that I know is wrong for him. He can't possibly understand why he can't do it, and it's useless to try to explain it to him. My only choice is to parentally restrain him and have faith that he'll eventually find his way.

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