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“I was riding on bus 901 over the Coronado Bridge [on December 4] when I saw two guys who were fighting with an old man,” recounts Paul Borja. Actually, the “fighting” Borja saw was a struggle to save an elderly man from jumping off the Coronado bridge. Edgar Gonzalez and Peter Tegel risked their lives to prevent the suicide.

“Pete [Tegel] noticed a car parked mid-span in the center lane, of the bridge,” said Len Kaine, an associate of Tegel’s. “He then saw a man hanging on the outside of the bridge railing, preparing to jump. Cars were passing by, but Pete chose to stop. He jumped out and ran to the man. He grabbed him and tried to pull him back onto the bridge. The man was too big for Pete to do it alone, so he hung on tight.

“The elderly man kept saying he was ready to die, but Pete, being the good Christian that he is, hung on for dear life. Another car stopped and now Pete had help keeping the man from jumping to his death. An off-duty policeman, on his own motorcycle, also stopped to help. Pete and these two gentlemen were able to get the distraught man safely back onto the bridge.”

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BGates Dec. 9, 2009 @ 8:28 a.m.

Nice save. Congratulations! Good to know there are good samaritans at Coronado since I am looking for properties there.

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xians421 Dec. 9, 2009 @ 10:06 a.m.

People have a right to choose their own destiny. This man was ready and not begging for attention, like the two recent low altitude freeway jumpers. All they accomplished was to knot up traffic for hours.

Let them jump. Wish them well in their version of the afterlife.

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PistolPete Dec. 9, 2009 @ 1:30 p.m.

I have to agree with xians on this one. I hate to say it but the two "saviors" seem a bit arrogant. I'm not saying they're wrong, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate. I myself don't want to live past 50. If I do, fine. I won't kill myself but if I die at or after 50, I'll die knowing I lived a pretty decent life. Granted, I don't know what's in store for my future but I have a pretty good guessstimate that nothing bad will happen.

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SDaniels Dec. 9, 2009 @ 3:54 p.m.

The only problem with this is that so often people would have changed their minds the next day, or even in the next hour. I don't see these guys as necessarily arrogant, and whether or not they were Christians, they may have been motivated by the strong altruistic instinct many humans have, to not let someone else be injured. They probably acted without time to even consult the values of their respective faiths.

Yes, xian is right--there are cases in which we need to let people go, when they have--truly, logically, and not overly emotionally--made up their minds to die, and are at peace with their deaths. But how could these two have known for sure that this older man was not acting on a false logic, out of a momentary desperation or shocking news? Or his medications reacted? If the man is truly ready, he will find a way another day, but at least he has time to reconsider.

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PistolPete Dec. 9, 2009 @ 8:26 p.m.

Very good point, SD. I'm looking at this from a Native's perspective. Years ago, older Natives used to say goodbye to their families, walked into the woods and joined their spiritual ancestors. They knew when it was their time and no tears were shed. They completed the circle of life naturally. They didn't commit suicide. They just....knew.

Let me aslso re-add that there is no right or wrong about either the old man or the guys who "saved" him. Maybe it was God's will. Maybe the younger guys were acting on behalf of the devil himself. We'll never know.

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abbeyrd Dec. 10, 2009 @ 6:45 p.m.

Years ago, older Natives used to say goodbye to their families, walked into the woods and joined their spiritual ancestors.

By PistolPete

Don't leave us in suspense Pistol. Did the forest swallow them up? What was next buddy? Seriously though, thanks.

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PistolPete Dec. 10, 2009 @ 10:30 p.m.

LOL. The forest did indeed swallow them up. Kind of. I don't know the exact details and I doubt any true Native ever did. When Chief Flyinghawk's time was up, the spirit wind whispered it to him in his ear or he may have had a vision during a tribal smokeout or sweat lodge.

Basically, and I'm again totally assuming this, the old warriors just walked away from the tribe so it wouldn't be burdened and left to die alone. I'm sure most just layed down and waited for the wind to pick up their spirit and carry it to the afterlife.

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SDaniels Dec. 11, 2009 @ 2:13 a.m.

Hey Pete, what group or tribe of Native Americans were you thinking of? Reminds me of the practice of going out on an ice flow--Is this Inuit?

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David Dodd Dec. 11, 2009 @ 3:52 a.m.

This says it better than I can:

I have climbed Mt. San Jacinto. It is real. Whatever my ancestors felt was real. The burial grounds are amazing, and probably the most spiritual thing I've ever felt.

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PistolPete Dec. 11, 2009 @ 9:06 a.m.

SD-I wasn't refering to any particular tribe. I was always under the assumption that they all did this. I very well could be wrong. There may be particular tribes or bands that did(do)this. I tried looking online last night but this computer kept knocking me off so I gave up.

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PistolPete Dec. 11, 2009 @ 10:42 a.m.

Thanks for the info, themaninthemirror. I've always assumed that what I was told by my family was false, but never bothered to do any significant research regarding the death and burial rites of my ancestors. I just took it at face value with a grain of salt. I guess the romantic in me wanted to believe it was true.

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GGaines Dec. 11, 2009 @ 4:36 p.m.

There is a time and a place for everything under the sun. Sometimes it is a day to die and sometimes it is a day to still live. God can use other people to give us a message that we can still do something physically on this earth.

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SDaniels Dec. 12, 2009 @ 4:51 a.m.

12:

themaninthemirror, awesome summary, and history lesson--many re: thanks for filling in at least a small gap! :)

14:

GGaines, it can't be "sometimes" a day to die, and sometimes a day to live--unfortunately, we cannot make decisions that way, since the decision to die is permanent. This is why such a decision needs to be made as rationally as possible. I do have such an example:

Two years ago, one of my neighbors, a retired doctor, learned that she had the onset of Alzheimer's disease, and decided she would rather die than burden her family emotionally and financially in coming years. Her husband, also a retired doctor, was against her decision, so she had to be sneaky about carrying out her death; she chose to go via an overdose of some medication. Being a doctor, I feel assured that she chose something as quick and painless--and efficatious--as possible. It was tough on her husband, who moved to be with family out of state after a year or so, but I recently heard he remarried.

Most importantly for this issue, she knew exactly what was happening, and how much time she had, and made this decision for herself as well as for her family--as a doctor, I imagine that losing that kind of control and intellectual power would just be more than unacceptable. I say we should allow individuals to make such informed end of life decisions, and stop criminalizing suicide for logical reasons.

As a final thought on this, what an amazing and loving gift of time she also granted her husband!

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Ponzi Dec. 12, 2009 @ 6:56 a.m.

Problem with bridge jumping is there’s still a chance you’ll survive. One Coronado bridge jumper survived and now drives across the bridge daily to his job at the North Island Navy Base.

You may survive an be put on life support and be in agony for days or weeks before dying, or recover and walk out of the hospital. Or, like most survivors of bridge jumps, end up in a wheelchair, paralyzed or with amputated limbs. Of course you’d be 1 out of 20 since the fatality rate is 95%.

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SDaniels Dec. 12, 2009 @ 7:48 a.m.

re: #16: "One Coronado bridge jumper survived and now drives across the bridge daily to his job at the North Island Navy Base."

Well, Ponzi--you say he's one of the 5% to survive, and drives the bridge daily--what were the health consequences? Was he paralyzed?

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Ponzi Dec. 12, 2009 @ 8:46 a.m.

It was in a story I read sometime ago. I didn’t recall any permanent injuries being mentioned. In the story he just said it was creepy driving over the same bridge (everyday) where he almost took his life.

I tried to search for it. Came up with another story featured in the San Diego Reader (2000) http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

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Ponzi Dec. 12, 2009 @ 9:10 a.m.

As I looked for that story, I found this webpage showing the “Top Ten Suicide Destinations” with Japans Mount Fuji as #1 and the Coronado Bridge as #7. I noticed a pattern. It seems most (85%) of the jump spots as well as most of the suicide occur above the 37th latitude.
http://retardzone.com/2008/08/27/worlds-10-most-popular-suicide-destinations/

Depressing places where it's cold, rains a lot and is mostly overcast. Seattle and cities in the UK and Canada.

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PistolPete Dec. 12, 2009 @ 9:10 a.m.

Double WOW! Again, Ponzi, thanks for the link. I never thought of the Coronado Bridge as a suicide magnet.

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Ponzi Dec. 12, 2009 @ 9:17 a.m.

Sure thing Pete!

I think we don’t hear about most of the suicide attempts and suicides because they are not reported. I believe it’s a journalistic courtesy (to the victim or survivor and their family). So we usually only learn about them when they are causing a traffic disruptions or a firearm is involved which ay put the public in danger.

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SDaniels Dec. 12, 2009 @ 9:43 p.m.

re: #25, 26: Fumber, thy work is sheer poetry. Such delicate, vivid imagery.

re:#24: I know this to be true from personal experience, mirror. Going to stand in a patch of sunlight when it has been gloomy, feels just like the skin is hungrily drinking in the sun in like a glass of milk ;)

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mh91945 Dec. 14, 2009 @ 7:42 p.m.

"I believe research has shown more suicides occur between September and April."

Seems like the winter season is more depressing for many people especially those who don't have very many loved ones. I think also the holidays can drive people over the brink due to the fact that they've overspent on their credit cards. Like those investors who commit suicide after losing all their stocks in the 1930's market crash.

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Microsoft92101 Dec. 15, 2009 @ 10:26 a.m.

I heard that Coronado is the 3rd deadliest bridge. Anyone know where the first two deadliest bridges are?

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PistolPete Dec. 15, 2009 @ 10:56 a.m.

1-Golden Gate Bridge-San Francisco,CA

2-George Washington Memorial Bridge-Seattle,WA

3-San Diego-Coronado Bridge-San Diego,CA

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KRCash Dec. 17, 2009 @ 3:47 p.m.

Hi SDaniels! I like poetry also and artwork and sunsets. Nice comments.

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Microsoft92114 Dec. 17, 2009 @ 8:24 p.m.

KRCash, that picture looks like Lover's Leap. Have you been there before?

PistolPete, thanks for the info on the bridges. Did not know that Seattle had the next highest. I had heard it was a bridge in Florida. Also thanks for the link.

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AshTate May 8, 2010 @ 3:42 p.m.

I'm looking to speak with individuals in Southern California who have seen a stranger commit suicide.

I'm collecting information for a research study, hoping to find out how people are affected by and cope with this experience.

Compensation offered for your time - a $35 Target Gift Card

If you meet the following criteria, please contact me: - You were in the physical presence of a stranger as he/she committed suicide. - You are willing to answer questions that include, but are not limited to, a description of the event, as well as your psychological, emotional, and physical reactions. - You are fluent in English. - You were over the age of 18 at the time the suicide occurred. - The event must have happened at least one year ago. - You were/are not involved in any legal proceedings concerning the suicide you witnessed.

If you are interested, please call Ashley Hatton, MA (214) 934-0996, or email at ashleytatehatton@mac.com

Your participation is VOLUNTARY and CONFIDENTIAL.

The interview will be face-to-face and take place in a private location that is convenient to you (ex: library). The interview will take between 1.5 to 2 hours.

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RayGarcia Oct. 29, 2013 @ 1:24 a.m.

Great comments on this interesting story.

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