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Bridge Workers Thwart Suicide Attempt

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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Two bridge mechanics in Portland, OR, are being credited with saving a young man’s life when they prevented him from jumping off a bridge.

The 22-year-old was about the jump off the Hawthorne Bridge late Wednesday (May 7) morning, when Leo Sandoval and Buel Dees pulled him from the edge until help could arrive, reported local news outlet

Sandoval and Dees, bridge mechanics for Multnomah County, were about to strengthen the railings on the 1,383-foot-long bridge when they noticed that a man was attempting to jump off.

Hawthorne Bridge
Screengrab of reader submitted photo

"I grabbed him, held him, tucked him tight to me to hold him from going over," one of the bridge mechanics told

The bridge crosses the Willamette River, sitting 49 feet over the water at its center when the river is at its low level.

Saving a Stranger

"I grabbed him, held him, tucked him tight to me to hold him from going over," Sandoval told the news station.

Like many news media, the station's policy is not to report on suicide attempts, but "the lengths these two men went to to save a stranger is a story that needed to be told," news anchor Laural Porter said.

Dees said, "When I saw that Leo was struggling with him, and the guy was intent on going over, I grabbed the other side of him to hold him down."

"I don't know the true definition of a hero. But I'm just a normal citizen willing to help someone."

Sandoval and Dees told that a third, unidentified man also stepped in to help.

Multnomah County
Multnomah County

The Hawthorne Bridge sits 49 feet high over the WIllamette RIver at its center.

The Hawthorne Bridge was originally constructed in 1910 and is the oldest operating vertical lift bridge in the U.S., according to Multnomah County's website.

Oregon Prevention Efforts

As part of its efforts to prevent suicide, the Portland Police Bureau produced a video in 2013 that starts from the point of view of a person who has jumped off the Hawthorne Bridge and is under water. The video then reverses the jumper's actions, where the person is back at home and instead considers calling a suicide hotline.

According to the police department, Oregon's suicide rate is among the highest in the country, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among Oregonians ages 15 to 34.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety

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