Tom Tyler last saw his wife leaving her Boulder City home Monday morning.
She had a smile on her face.
A little more than four hours later, he received the worst news a loving husband can receive: His wife of nine years, Colleen, had died after falling from the Hoover Dam bypass bridge.
“She was headed to work and was happy to be working,” Tyler said of his wife, who worked as administrative support for a Clark County agency. “I don’t know what happened. I’m mystified.”
Tyler, 60, reached by phone at his home Tuesday afternoon, said he saw no signs that his wife was depressed or contemplating taking her own life.
The Clark County coroner’s office reported Colleen Tyler, 51, fell nearly 1,000 feet from the Hoover Dam bypass bridge into the Colorado River on Monday. Her death was ruled a suicide.
Colleen Dwyer, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation, said that about noon Monday, several witnesses saw the woman jump to her death from the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge. Her body was recovered at 12:38 p.m., Las Vegas police said.
Tyler’s death was the second in less than two weeks at the bypass bridge and the fourth since it opened in October 2010.
Damon Hodge, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said officials with his agency are concerned about people jumping to their deaths from the bridge. He said stakeholders for the bridge, including his agency, the Arizona Department of Transportation, Bureau of Reclamation and Boulder City police will meet during their regular quarterly meetings in August or September. The topic of bridge jumpers probably will come up, he said. Hodge said, however, mitigating the problem will be a challenge.
“If someone is singularly focused on doing damage to themselves, there is not much we can do to stop them,” he said.
Hodge said the past two suicides have been a “tragic anomaly,” noting that although bridge jumpers were a concern when the bypass was first built, the first suicide came more than one year after it opened.
That suicide occurred in April when a California woman plunged to her death.
On July 12, Jacob Gerard Foreman, 39, fell from the bypass bridge after he walked onto the bridge’s walkway and climbed over the rail. The Clark County coroner’s office ruled his death a suicide.
Hodge said any proposed safety changes done to the bridge, whether it be additional barriers that would make it harder for jumpers or other methods, would have to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration.
Tyler said he does not know how he will cope without his wife, whose career choices made it obvious that she cared for people. He said she worked for the Clark County Department of Family Services. She was also an Army veteran who worked as a nurse.
Erik Pappa, a spokesman for Clark County, confirmed that Colleen Tyler worked for the Department of Family Services. He said she was a contracted employee for the past five months who worked in administrative support in the medical case management unit.
“Staff really liked her,” Pappa said. “She was a hard worker.”
Tom Tyler said his wife had three children from a past relationship who are now in their 20s. She also had three grandchildren, ages 8 and younger. Tom Tyler has two adult children from a past relationship.
He said he is leaning on family to get through these difficult times.
“She was my best friend,” Tyler said, choking back emotions. “I’m totally lost without her.”
Review-Journal writers Kristi Jourdan and Kyle Potter contributed to this report. Contact Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638