PORTLAND -- A volunteer who recently started patrolling the Vista Bridge to help prevent suicides watched a man jump to his death from the bridge Monday.
The man was the fifth person this year to jump from what's referred to in Portland as the Suicide Bridge.
Volunteer Jan Schumacher said the man drove past her and left his car running as he got out and walked toward the railing, looking down at the street below.
I'm about 10 feet away and I'm asking him if he's lost something, Schumacher said. I asked him if we could talk. And then it all happened so quick. He threw his leg up onto the bridge and he was on the other side. And I asked him please not to do it and to talk to me. And he was gone.
The man's family later asked that he be identified. They also thanked Schumacher for trying to save Richard Anderson, Jr. His sister and niece said they took comfort in knowing he didn't walk the bridge alone in his last moments.
Portland Commissioner Steve Novick declared an emergency in June to ensure construction of temporary anti-suicide screens on the bridge. Installation of the screens began last Tuesday.
In July, volunteers with Friends of the Vista Bridge and other groups began patrolling the bridge overnight and early mornings, because they say that's when suicides are most likely.
It broke my heart, Schumacher said. I work with survivors in the burn unit, so I work with people who are doing their utmost and struggling to live. To see someone just throw it away was something I'd never seen before.
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Schumacher told KGW her next volunteer shift was scheduled for Friday. She plans to be there.