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Seattle commuters taunt woman threatening suicide leap into Lake Washington Ship Canal on August 28, 2001.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3528 : Printer-Friendly Format

On August 28, 2001, commuters on Interstate-5 taunt a woman threatening to leap from the Washington Ship Canal Bridge, because she is delaying traffic. Police close the bridge to traffic to coax her to safety, but she jumps anyway. The 26-year-old Pierce County resident survives the 160-foot drop, but suffers serious injuries. The cruel and insensitive reactions of Seattle motorists, Metro passengers, and a local DJ who ran splashing sounds on the radio earn Seattle national media attention.

At approximately 6:20 a.m., Seattle Police received a report of a woman sitting on the railing of the Lake Washington Ship Canal bridge south-bound side. A car was parked in the emergency lane of the freeway. Police officers blocked traffic during the morning commute causing an immense traffic snarl. Frustrated motorists and bus passengers shouted, "Jump bitch, jump." A Seattle radio station broadcast splashing sounds as part of its coverage of the event. Officers brought a friend of the woman to the scene to assist in talking her to safety.

At approximately 10:00 a.m., the woman stood and stepped off. She hit the water below and was rescued by divers of the Seattle Harbor Patrol. She was listed in serious condition at Harborview Medical Center.

Seattle's daily newspapers departed from their policies of not usually covering suicides because of the behavior of the commuters.

Gordy Holt, Lewis Kamb, and Vanessa Ho, "Suicide Try Snarls I-5," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 29, 2001, A-1, A-8.

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