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Caltrans looking at vertical net as suicide barrier along Coronado bridge

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Posted at 7:12 AM, Feb 05, 2022

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) — Caltrans could be one step closer to finally having a solution to deter people from jumping from the San Diego-Coronado bridge.

More than 400 people have jumped to their deaths since the bridge opened in 1969.

"It's a suicide magnet. Everybody knows it," Wayne Strickland said.

As a retired firefighter, Strickland said there have been many times where he's had to respond to jumpers.

"We would pull them up and try to do CPR, resuscitate them, and it never saved anybody doing that, but we tried," Strickland said.

In 2019, Caltrans installed 4-inch bird spikes on the top of the bridge rail as a deterrent, but that didn't stop people from ending their lives.

On Feb. 2, 2022, a woman used the bridge to commit suicide.

A Caltrans study released last month details several options for suicide barriers. It found a vertical stainless steel net that's eight to 10 feet tall as the current best option.

"It's still going to have some openings, vision openings to preserve the view from the bridge but also make it difficult to climb," said Stefan Galvez-Abadia, Caltrans District 11 Deputy Director for the Environmental Division.

Galvez-Abadia said several factors are considered when constructing a barrier, including the environmental and community impacts.

"Also, first responders... it was important to provide a type of solution that would make their job easier," Galvez-Abadia said.

Today, Strickland helps lead the San Diego Coronado Bridge Suicide Prevention group. The organization has long advocated for suicide deterrents.

He thinks the proposed vertical net is a great idea and stresses the urgency for getting the project done.

"Make it a priority. Put it on the front burner instead of the back burner and just get it done Caltrans and I'm not going to give up until it gets done," Strickland said.

The project is open for public comment for the next month. Caltrans will hold a virtual meeting on the project on Thursday, Feb. 10, from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. You can also submit a comment here.

If you or someone you know is struggling, the San Diego crisis hotline is available 24-7. The number is 888- 724-7240.