A 17-year-old boy not only jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge while on a school field trip and survived, but he also swam to shore and climbed out of the cold water.
In what is viewed by some as a miracle, the junior from Windsor High School in Sonoma County jumped Thursday morning and walked away with minimal injuries.
On social media websites, some classmates initially said the teen leaped as a “thrill.” Later, others denied it was done on a dare.
Windsor Unified School District Superintendent Bill McDermott said he didn’t think the teen was trying to commit suicide, but jumped after other students urged him to do it. Students saw the teen go over the railing.
Some 45 Windsor High honors students, along with two teachers, were at the bridge as part of a field trip.
For now, the California Highway Patrol is investigating the incident as a possible suicide attempt.
The boy was between the southern tower and Fort Point when he plunged more than 200 feet off the bridge’s east sidewalk around 11 a.m. The highest point on the bridge is midspan, CHP Officer Chris Rardin said, not where the student jumped from.
The boy reportedly swam back to shore in the 55-degree water with the help of a surfer who was in the Bay near where he landed.
The boy, who has not been identified, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital. A statement from his school said he suffered no severe injuries beyond bruising and tenderness.
The teen joins more than 1,400 others who have jumped from the bridge since it opened in 1937, according to the Golden Gate Bridge transit district. Of those, only 2 percent survived, and only 4 percent of those who survived were able to walk again.
Last year, 32 people died after jumping from the bridge. As many as 10 million people visit the span annually.
According to Paul Muller, a member of the Bridge Rail Foundation, someone jumping from more than 200 feet off the bridge will hit the water at 75 mph.
Kevin Hines, 29, who jumped from the bridge in 2001 and survived, said the teen needs to understand the gravity of his actions.
“The majority of people perish due to something like this,” he said. “Young people need to understand this clearly, and that it’s something that shouldn’t be toyed with.”
Hines spent months in rehabilitation after breaking both his legs and vertebrae from the jump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Golden Gate Bridge suicides:
Sources: Bridge transit district, Marin County Coroner’s Office