Saturday, December 3, 2016

10 People Who Survived a Fall Off the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate bridge is one of the most famous and beautiful bridges in the world. It is inarguably the most well-known structure in the world famous city of San Francisco. Sitting roughly 250 feet over the San Francisco Bay, with towers extending 700 feet into the sky, the Golden Gate Bridge is a sight to behold.
With all the great things that can be said about the Golden Gate Bridge it also comes with a terrifying dark side that isn’t as well known. On average, every two weeks someone jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge in an attempt to commit suicide. More than 1,400 people have jumped to their deaths since the bridge opened in 1937. Only 33 people have survived the fall.

Paul Theodore Hudner
On June 25th, 1986 Paul Hudner jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, falling an estimated 220 feet into the San Francisco Bay. A fishing boat crew was nearby and able to rescue him. Miraculously Mr. Hudner survived the fall without breaking any bones however he did suffer some internal injuries in the fall, which was calculated to have been at 80 mph. Sadly, in a strange turn of events, 33 years earlier, Hudner’ s grandfather had committed suicide by jumping off the bridge.

Todd Sherratt
On, December 20th, 1979 Todd Sherratt jumped off the bridge. Only 17 years old at the time, Todd fell approximately 210-feet into the San Francisco Bay. Todd Sherratt was only the 12th person to have survived the fall. Even more shocking, he was first person to ever swim safely to shore after jumping. The next day he was described as “sore all over” but recovering nicely with his family at his bedside. Todd was “fine, alert, cooperative and in good spirits”. The only injuries he suffered in the fall appeared to be badly bruised buttocks and minor fractures of three vertebrae.

Evan C. "Slim" Lambert
The overwhelming majority of people who have fallen off the Golden Gate Bridge have been suicide attempts. In the case of Slim Lambert, it was a horrible accident. On Feb. 17, 1937, as construction on the Golden Gate Bridge was nearing completion, Mr. Lambert was working as the crew chief on a staging area under the bridge. The platform broke loose from its moorings, and 12 men plunged 250 feet into San Francisco Bay. Ten men did not survive the fall.

 Slim, 26 years old at the time, was able to survive both the fall and the flying debris from the platform. He was finally rescued by a passing fishing boat but not before his co-worker he had tried to save passed away in his arms.

Cornelia Van Ireland
In 1941, Cornelia Van Ireland became the 35th person documented jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and amazingly became the first document survivor. Twenty-two years old and engaged to be married, Cornelia was on the bridge for a leisurely stroll when suddenly she was overwhelmed by the impulse to jump off the bridge. So she climbed over the safety railing and simply fell off. Although she claimed to feel almost indifferent during the fall, painters on the bridge that day claimed to hear her screams. A Coast Guard boat picked her up out the water, fully conscious, only seven minutes after she had fell. The impact off the fall and hitting the water had torn her shoes off, shredded her clothing, broken both her arms, and a fractured vertebra. She was released from the hospital a few weeks later and got married not too long afterwards.

Ann McGuire
Ann McGuire is believed to be the eleventh person to survive the fall from the Golden Gate Bridge. When Ann McGuire jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge on September 12, 1979, she clearly remembers saying to herself, “I must be about to hit,” three separate times before striking the water below. The fall was 211 feet. Ann’s fall took approximately four seconds and she was traveling at approximately 75 miles per hour. The Coast Guard rescued Ann but she was badly injured and required extensive surgery.

Luhe "Otter" Vilagomez
On March 10th, 2011, Windsor High School had 45 of its students take a field trip to San Francisco. The class stopped at the Golden Bridge for a walk before visiting the de Young museum later that day. One of those students was Luhe “Otter” Vilagomez. Identifying a way to impress his classmates, Luhe thought it would be fun to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. So he unknowing walked to the spot where most people jump to commit suicide, climbed the railing despite attempts for his classmates to stop him, and jumped. Luhe later said he had a lot of experience jumping off smaller bridges and didn’t think twice about it.

Below, a local surfer saw the teen’s body fall into the ocean and immediately assumed he was dead. The surfer helped the boy onto his surf board where the boy told him he jumped for fun. Luhe didn’t suffer any severe injuries.
Ken Baldwin
It was Aug. 12, 1985, when Kenneth Baldwin pulled his pickup truck out of the driveway, dressed in all his work clothes. He wasn’t heading to work though; he was on his way to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. He told himself he would count to ten and then jump, he did this two times and couldn’t work up the nerve. On his third count, he vaulted over the handrail and began plunging towards the ocean.

"From the instant I saw my hand leave the railing, I knew I wanted to live." Baldwin said. After blacking out and traveling approximately 220 feet at 75 m.p.h. into the San Francisco Bay, he remembers regaining consciousness and began swimming. Mr. Baldwin was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and incredibly only suffered a few broken ribs and a bruised lung.

Paul Alarab
On March 13, 1988 Paul Alarab had become so upset with the perceived injustice received by many elderly and handicapped people that he decided to stage his own protest. He planned to sit in a 33-gallon barrel and dangle himself below the Golden Gate Bridge using a 60-foot rope. While lowering himself he slipped and began falling 220 feet into the ocean. Regaining consciousness 20 feet under water, Paul swam to the surface and spent the next two hours swimming to shore. After the fall Alarab said, ''but I'll never put my life on the line again because I feel so lucky to be alive today.''
Almost exactly 15 years later, on March 19th, 2013, in protest of the war in Iraq, Paul climbed over the bridge railing, tied one end of a rope to the bridge while holding the other end. Paul jumped from the bridge and let go of the rope. He did not survive his second fall off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sarah Rutledge Birnbaum
Sarah Rutledge Birnbaum is the first person to ever attempt suicide twice from the Golden Gate Bridge. She was 18 years old and a student at UCLA when she went to the bridge and jumped from it on January 4th, 1988. Miraculously, she survived. A Coast Guard boat pulled her from the water and gave her oxygen, otherwise she was in fairly good condition considering the deadly fall.

Unfortunately, unable to bear the weight of not being accepted to Stanford University, she went back one month later in February 1988, and jumped again. Sadly, this time she succeeded in killing herself.
Kevin Hines
Immediately after Kevin Hines jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge into the ocean below, he felt instant regret recalled Hines of his suicide jump. On Sept. 25, 2000, Hines, 19 years old at the time, paced the pedestrian walkway in tears. He says he had voices in his head telling him to die, but he secretly wished someone would ask him what was wrong. Hines waited 40 minutes only to have a tourist came up and asked whether he could take her photo, completely ignoring his emotional distress. It was all the proof he needed that no one cared.
Hines landed in the water after the 220-foot freefall and severely damaged three vertebrae. Amazingly, Hines could recall that a sea lion kept pushing him above the water’s surface until the Coast Guard was able to rescue him. Hines, who suffers from bipolar disorder and says he stays “alive and well” with a combination of therapy, medication, exercise and other means, now travels the world to share his story.



  1. Great piece....very informative and well-written...
    Michael Fitzpatrick

  2. An informative post. We had heard and read about the Golden Gate Bridge but no idea about the dark side of Golden Gate Bridge, Thank you very much for the post a lot of information was gained by reading your post.