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Tony Scott scaled 18-foot fence in bridge jump

August 20, 2012 |  3:24 pm

Tony Scott scaled 18-foot fence in jump from Vincent Thomas Bridge
The Vincent Thomas Bridge is California's third-largest suspension bridge and towers 185 feet above the water, but suicides there are relatively rare, Los Angeles County coroner's officials said.

Neither the coroner's office nor Caltrans keeps records of suicides at the bridge.

An 18-foot-high fence was installed on both sides of the bridge in the early 1970s to prevent falling debris, Caltrans officials said. Director Tony Scott scaled that fence before leaping to his death, according to witnesses and authorities.

In 2000, a 37-year-old man drove the wrong way onto the bridge, crashed into another car and died after throwing himself off the bridge. In 1996, a 32-year-old man scaled the bridge and jumped to his death after ignoring three witnesses who tried to stop him. Larry Andreasen, who took home a bronze medal in the 1964 Olympic springboard diving competition, attempted to dive off the bridge in 1988, telling authorities he "just wanted to see if he had the old Olympic stuff." He was eventually talked out of the stunt by police. Three years earlier, another man threatened to kill himself there, but finally came down, after traffic had been stopped for hours.

On Monday, Assembly member Tom Ammiano called for a concerted effort to end bridge suicides.

"Tony Scott jumped to his death Sunday, tragically and forever linking the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Foresthill Bridge in Gold Country and other spans that have been used by the desperate to end their lives," Ammiano said. "We need to work to put suicide barriers on these bridges. Barriers save lives. It's a sensible way to prevent future heartbreak."

Although the Vincent Thomas Bridge has an 18-foot fence, the Golden Gate Bridge does not have a barrier, a fact that has fueled debate for years.

Ammiano said more than 1,500 documented jumps have been taken from the Golden Gate Bridge, in his district, since it opened in 1937. Ammiano, a director for the Golden Gate Bridge District, says he has worked for a decade to get a suicide prevention barrier installed there.

"The Golden Gate Bridge is a leader in suicide prevention efforts, but there are many other bridges that should have barriers," said Ammiano, who says he will now push for safety measures on such bridges statewide.

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

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