PORTLAND -- Portland police say a man fell to his death from the Vista Bridge just weeks before the span is to get temporary barriers to prevent suicide. Community groups are seeking volunteers to patrol the bridge until those barriers are in place.
Sgt. Pete Simpson says officers responded to the scene less than hour before sunrise Tuesday to the suicide report. The victim was the fourth person this year to die at the span known as "The Suicide Bridge."
"This is a sad confirmation of the need to take action to prevent further unnecessary deaths, and a sad affirmation that a barrier is necessary to save lives," said Commissioner Steve Novick.
Novick declared an emergency to ensure construction of a temporary anti-suicide screens on the bridge last week.
Until then, the groups Friends of Vista Bridge and the Goose Hollow Neighborhood Association are seeking volunteers to patrol the bridge. They will hold a training session on July 24 for interested volunteers.
"Its not a question of grabbing somebody and keeping them from doing something they are intent to do," said Tom Parker of Lines for Life. "It's really about reconnecting them with their reasons for living."
Portland Bureau of Transportation spokeswoman Diane Dulken said the screens should be in place by the end of the month.
It would cost an estimated $2.5 million for a permanent barrier that's architecturally appropriate to the structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Approximately 170 people have died at Vista Bridge since it was built 87 years ago.