Amber and Vinnie and I were walking from the convention center to downtown. There was a cool LEGO show we’d just spent a few hours at, marveling at people’s creations. We decided to walk over the Steel Bridge because we hadn’t done it in a while.
I had my camera with me, thinking I’d take some fun pictures of my family and the city. I love being a tourist in my own town.
As we were walking across, taking ‘arty’ pictures of the bridge, thinking about where we were going to have breakfast, we noticed a ton of police activity further down the river on the Broadway Bridge.
“I’ll check @pdxalerts,” she says.
“Woah,” I exclaimed, kind of not believing it was happening. And right after she said it, a boat zoomed under us. Fastest I’ve ever seen a boat move on the Willamette.
There’s parts of the Steel Bridge that are just grates — they let you get an almost treacherous sense of the river flowing beneath you.
A few seconds later, an even faster watercraft passed just beneath our feet—it was a jet-ski towing a floating stretcher.
I don’t know all the exact protocols of how river patrol handles these things; but I know they do send out boats when they have a confirmed possible jumper. But this seemed a little more than usual.
We were too far away to see the actual jump. But he had done it.
The most surreal part? We were there on the nearby bridge, a few hundred feet away, learning what the flashing lights, the multiple speedboats, all of it — via twitter.
“Is this all really happening?” we kept asking each other, “I can’t believe this is happening. This is crazy.”
Talk about a teaching moment. Here we were with our 11 year old son, and he was seeing all this go down. So we talked about it. About why people do these things, and what to do when you’re upset and how jumping off the bridge probably isn’t the best solution.
The support systems we, as a society, have in place are pretty amazing, when you think about it—this one man fighting with his sister on a bridge had a stunning collection of first responders there within minutes. Traffic was stopped on the bridge and we counted three different boats down below.
One of the boats started racing back towards us.
They got him.