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April 19, 2011

2nd teen in weeks survives Golden Gate Bridge jump

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A 16-year-old girl became the second person in five weeks to survive a plunge from San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge — a 220-foot drop that is almost always fatal.

The unidentified teen lived through the drop Sunday and the 20 minutes she spent in the 53-degree water of San Francisco Bay before she was rescued, Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard motor boat that pulled the girl from the bay about 200 yards from the east side of the bridge said she was conscious and responsive. One witness reported seeing her swimming to stay afloat, Talmadge said.

"To me, it's just amazing she even survived that drop, whether it was a jump or a fall," she said.

The girl was transported to Marin General Hospital, but her condition wasn't immediately available.

In March, a 17-year-old boy who jumped from the bridge during a school field trip survived with only bruises and the threat of prosecution for trespassing. Authorities said he climbed over a railing as a stunt, possibly after being goaded into it by classmates.

Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, said Sunday's incident involving the girl was being handled as a suicide attempt.

The Golden Gate Bridge is considered one of the world's most popular spots for suicides, with a jump survival rate of only about 2 percent.

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The bridge district does not track nonfatal leaps, but Currie estimated that 278 people took their lives from the span between 2000 and 2010. About 677 people were deterred after going to the bridge intending to harm themselves, she said.