SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man was rescued by a sailing crew after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge on Monday in one of the rare cases of someone actually surviving the 220-foot plunge.
Scott Walecka told the Santa Cruz Sentinel he was taking his 38-foot vessel to San Francisco around 2 p.m. when his daughter saw the unidentified man jump. They heard a Coast Guard radio call for a jumper in the water moments later and sailed toward the man after spotting him underneath a California Highway Patrol helicopter.
"He was alive and wanted to be rescued," Walecka said.
Walecka, 56, of Santa Cruz, said the man grabbed a life sling they threw overboard. His legs appeared to be broken, but he was able to grab the sling and pull himself to the back of the boat.
He described the man, who authorities said was 31 and homeless, as "buff" and "fit." The man said he was from Alabama, but appeared incapable of saying much else, Walecka said.
They sailed to a Coast Guard station in Sausalito accompanied by a Coast Guard vessel. From there, the man was transferred to Marin General Hospital by fire officials. Southern Marin Fire Protection District Chief Jim Irving said on Tuesday he did not know the man's condition.
More than 1,500 people have jumped to their death from the span since it opened in 1937, making it one of the world's most active suicide spots. It's not clear what prompted the man to jump on Monday, but few people survive the plunge.
Most jumpers die a grisly death, with massive internal injuries and broken bones, while others drown.
The bridge's board of directors has approved a net system to prevent suicides. The final design for the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.