Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cold Springs Bridge suicide is 3rd this year


A 39-year-old Cuesta College teacher jumped to his death Monday morning from the Cold Spring Arch Bridge, the third suicide from the bridge this year, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials said the man was identified as Matt Aydelott, a San Luis Obispo resident.

Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the bridge early Monday morning after passersby reported a man sitting on the railing of the bridge, which is located on Highway 154.
“Prior to the deputy’s arrival, the man had fallen to his death,” said Sgt. Alex Tipolt. “The Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team was called out to make the recovery of the decedent from the rough terrain below.”
Tipolt said Aydelott’s suicide is the 46th since the towering bridge was constructed in 1963.
The bridge has been the center of controversy since last year when Caltrans proposed to raise the existing 2-foot, 7-inch barrier along the bridge by 6 feet, an action many believe will prevent suicides.
But critics of the suicide barrier claim it will do little to prevent people from leaping to their deaths.
Tipolt said the Sheriff’s Department believes such a barrier would not only prevent suicides, but would prevent dangerous rescues that often place first responders at risk.
“The proposed increase in height of the barrier would significantly reduce or eliminate suicides from the bridge,” Tipolt said. “An additional benefit would be the decrease in danger to public safety personnel that must make the recovery in the rough terrain below, and to law enforcement personnel responding to calls for service on the bridge.”
Tipolt noted that Sheriff Bill Brown, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and Santa Barbara Search and Rescue Association have all endorsed the barrier.
If the barrier were constructed, it would come with a $605,000 price tag.


axman said...

Third since February... third in 7 months, works out to a rate of 5 per year.

The recent numbers are higher because we have a lot more car traffic and population than back in 1963.

Nevertheless, there are anti-barrier people who claim the rate is less than one per year.

Actually, all the publicity they've caused has upped the rate of suicides.

Marc McGinnes said...

I am a member of Friends of the Bridge, one of 10 community organizations including the County Taxpayers Association, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Citizens Planning Association, who are opposed to the Caltrans proposal to install fencing barriers on the Cold Spring Bridge.

We are saddened by the suicide this week from the Cold Spring Bridge, and we are committed more strongly than ever to continue our campaign to convince Caltrans to address in an effective and fiscally responsible manner the problem of occasional suicide there. The idea of spending over $3 million to install highly damaging fencing barriers on the bridge is both fiscally irresponsible and a poor approach to actually preventing suicide rather than merely diverting its occurrence to other places.

Our website at elaborates the bases of our opposition to the Caltrans barriers proposal, describes the features of an alternative proposal based on the work of one of the nation's leading authorities on suicide prevention on bridges, and provides extensive documentation concerning project planning assumptions, costs, and related issues.

The news release from the Sheriff's Department is seriously misleading when it states that Caltrans "proposes the raising of the existing barrier by 6 feet." The truth is that Caltrans proposes to install new fencing barriers nearly 10 feet high that will deface the bridge and destroy the public's enjoyment of the scenic views available from it. There is no "existing barrier," only a too-low sinle-bar railing that we have told Caltrans we think should be raised to provide greater safety for Sheriff's personnel and others responding to suicidal behavior on the bridge. Both the Sheriff and Caltrans have so far been unwilling to even discuss this with us.

LetemJump said...

I don't care if we lose a person a day on that bridge. Don't spend my tax dollars on such a wasteful project. Until I decide to jump myself, I want a good life with a government spending my tax money on things that will benefit me and everyone else.