On Being Saved by a Sea Lion After Leaping From the Golden Gate Bridge
by Chris Dixon
Since the Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, at least 1600 human beings (perhaps far more) have ended their lives by leaping from its 220 foot heights into the freezing waters of San Francisco Bay. Kevin Hines would not be one of them. In 2000, hearing voices in his head, suffering from bi-polar disorder and beyond despondent, the 21-year-old Hines hurled himself from the span. As he fell, he recalls clearly realizing he’d just made a fatal mistake. With four seconds to adjust his trajectory, he angled himself for a feet-first entry and endured a bone-shattering 75-mph impact. He would become one of only four to survive such a leap. Battered and broken, he struggled to the surface where, at first, he thought he felt a shark bumping into him. Years later he would learn, it wasn’t a shark at all.
Recently, Hines, today the author of the book “Cracked, Not Broken,” and an ardent speaker and advocate on behalf the mentally ill was contacted by a man who not only saw Hines leap, but captured the jump’s aftermath on camera. “I know that it was a sea lion and it is not a statistic anomaly. Marine animals (dolphins, sea lions) and other creatures have helped save humans and other animals from dangerous situations all over the world,” he wrote. Read the rest of Kevin’s personal account: Sea Lion Savior.
“But I say to you now, the next time you see someone in obvious emotional distress, suffering in pain, and you don’t know them from Adam. I beg of you to walk up that person, look them in the eyes, do not turn away, and say something to the effect of, “Are you okay?… You could quite literally save a life in that moment.” Watch Kevin’s story in the below video.
One of Hines’ main advocacy projects has been a suicide barrier at the Golden Gate. Here’s a rendering of what was recently approved:
Photo from: Final design of Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier complete, approved. Mercury News.