Officials approve steel net on Golden Gate Bridge to prevent suicides

Saturday, August 22, 2015
EMBED <>More Videos

Supporters of a steel net to prevent suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge experienced a major victory Friday after the project was green-lighted.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Supporters of a net to prevent suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge experienced a major victory Friday.

One of the supporters, Kevin Berthia, almost jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge March 11, 2005 but he was rescued by retired CHP Sergeant Kevin Briggs.

"I don't know exactly what brought me to the bridge. I know I was overwhelmed with depression and I was ready to end it," Berthia said.

Berthia was 22 at the time. The sergeant called out to him.

"He jumped right over that rail and he landed on a little itty-bitty pipe and I thought he had gone over," Briggs said.

"I thought I was gone too. I grabbed the railing. He kind of distracted me and I grabbed the railing," Berthia said.

Briggs talked Berthia back to safety as he's done with countless others and written about in his new book, "Guardian of the Golden Gate." Others have still perished, like Kyle Gamboa.

"He was 18 years old and he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge Sept. 20, 2013," said Kyle's mother Kymberlyrenee Gamboa.

His parents made a promise to the Bridge District.

"We told them that we would be coming to every meeting until they did put up a suicide prevention barrier," Gamboa said.

Two years later they're getting their wish. The board agreed to hire the firm that designed a concept of a steel net as a first step in putting the contract out to bid. The net could be finished in three and a half years.

"I am overjoyed today. That board gave me some of the best news that I've heard in a long time," Gamboa said.

Though a few have survived, the more than 200-foot fall to the water's surface is nearly always fatal. The net will be a 20-foot fall drop.

"While it may prevent people from falling to their deaths it will be rather very unpleasant experience to fall into a steel net," said Ewa Bauer, Bridge District chief engineer.

Bauer says it's such a deterrent that elsewhere in the world it's kept people from jumping in the first place.

"It would've stopped me right then and there," Berthia said.

Berthia believes it'll keep families from losing those they care about the most.

"If there was a net there I really feel that he would've jumped in that net, and he would be here today," Gamboa said.