Man jumps to death from Hoover Dam bypass bridge

A man jumped to his death off the Hoover Dam bypass bridge early Saturday morning in what is being called an apparent suicide.

Hoover Dam police were called to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday after reports came in of a possible suicide attempt.

Officers made contact with the man, and attempted to coax him off the side of the bridge. According to Las Vegas police, who received reports of the incident about 5:20 a.m. Saturday, a Hoover Dam officer was within 15 feet of the man, attempting to create a dialogue.

But the man never responded to police, and eventually jumped, falling 900 feet to his death, Las Vegas police said.

Witnesses said that the man stopped his motorcycle on the bridge, jumped the wall onto the walkway, and then climbed over the walkway’s railing. The Clark County coroner’s office will determine the man’s cause and manner of death and identify him pending notification of next of kin.

The 1,900-foot-long bridge, which opened in October 2010, crosses Black Canyon 900 feet above the Colorado River about a quarter of a mile downstream from Hoover Dam, which separates Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.

A walkway, which is open day and night, is separated from bridge traffic by a concrete barrier. The concrete wall along the pedestrian walkway sits at 4 feet, 6 inches. On the south side of the highway there is no walkway, but the wall is roughly a foot shorter.

The northbound side of the bridge was shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol while Las Vegas and Hoover Dam police investigated the incident, trooper Jeremie Elliott said.

Even in its short existence, the bridge has had a history of troubled incidents.

During its first year, there were no reported suicides from the span. In 2012, four people climbed over the railing and jumped into the Colorado River.

On July 12, 2012, Jacob Gerard Foreman, 39, fell from the bypass bridge after he walked onto the bridge’s walkway, climbed over the rail and hung from it.

Officers were unable to persuade Foreman to leave the railing. He fell off the bridge about two hours after the incident began. Foreman’s death was ruled a suicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.

Engineers from Nevada, Arizona and the Federal Highway Administration had discussed the potential for suicides during the design phase of the $240 million bridge but decided against any structures that could deter jumpers.

Officials with the Bureau of Reclamation and Nevada Department of Transportation could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.

Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.