TRAFFIC ALERT: Key Bridge Shut Down Due to Jumper

by ARLnow.com January 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm 21,807 118 Comments

Arlington police block the Key Bridge due to a person threatening to jump D.C. police block the Key Bridge due to a person threatening to jump

Update at 7:35 p.m. — The man has been safely taken into police custody. The scene is now being cleared.

Update at 6:10 p.m. — Police are still attempting to talk and negotiate with the man. A SWAT team is now reportedly on scene.

Police are blocking either side of the Key Bridge due to a person threatening to jump.

A man is hanging on to the southeast side of the bridge and threatening to jump, according to scanner traffic and witnesses. We’re told that a helicopter and a Coast Guard boat are assisting police, who are trying to talk with the man.

D.C. and Arlington police have shut down vehicle and pedestrian traffic to the bridge. Inbound traffic from Arlington is being diverted onto Lee Highway and the George Washington Parkway.

Significant traffic backups have been reported in Rosslyn, particularly at the intersection of Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd. Earlier, police looked into reports of motorists getting out of their cars and yelling obscenities at each other as a result of the backups.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call Crisis Link at 703-527-4077.

Hat tip to @Agent_Greg

  • Brooklynbanzai

    It looks like the jumper has climbed over the railing on the southeast side of the bridge. There are about 3 police boats under the bridge next to the ramp to Whitehurst Expwy.

    • Charles

      I hope they bill the scum for the costs to everyone the blocking Key Bridge. Here are just three: the cost to each person in what they would make in hourly wage at their jobs; the cost of fuel wasted waiting in traffic jams; and the cost of the uptick of health care caused by the increased air pollution. If not, at least give him another chance to JUMP or at least a boot in the back head.

  • Third Eye Blind

    DCTD posted this photo on Twitter. Don’t know why they feel the need to share his face with the world http://twitter.com/DCTDispatcher/status/288765161446195200/photo/1

    • huh?

      Then why did you feel the need to post it here?

    • TomTom

      And that is just a normal person, no relation to DC in anyways .. he runs what looks like a limo service

    • NovApologist

      Love the woman walking by like there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on.

      “must avoid eye contact…must avoid eye contact…”

      • meh..

        typical yuppie Clarendonite….

        • FrenchyB

          I seriously doubt that the police want random passers-by to talk to potential jumpers.

        • Not Me

          Wow, so many baseless assumptions in so few words. Good on ya cletus!

      • Rob

        Wait, they have shut down the bridge for car traffic because of a potential jumper, but they let pedestrians keep walking by within a few feet of the guy?

    • Ben

      That account is a private citizen who works as a dispatcher for DC Trails bus company. It is not a city or other official account.

  • This may sound awful but seriously .. during rush hour? Find a better time to figure out life’s probelms .. any why close both sides of the bridge?

    • SHLady

      I doubt that was the first thing on his mind.

    • seriously depressed

      “I care about nothing, I hate everything – but I DO care enough about you driving home from work on time that I will select my place of suicide to have minimal impact on roadway LOS”

      yeah, right

    • linaynay

      ur right that did sound awful, a persons life is more important than being a little late

      • Tumblebum

        Some may remember about 8 yrs ago (give or take) a guy doing the same thing on the old Wilson bridge at rush hour. The tie ups were tremendous. Almost total gridlock on the MD side anywhere within 2-3 miles of the bridge and things weren’t peachy on the Va side either. There were a number of reports of rescue squads and police not being able to get to other emergencies that were as serious/more serious than the threatening jumper. I understand the sadness of depression but there is a need to come up with a protocol to end these thing quickly when they affect this many people. A serious jumper doesn’t hang on the bridge until the police arrive. I’ve actually seen one and he just vaulted the rail with no hesitation. It’s kind of like overdosing and then calling 911.

        • SHLady

          I completely understand the consequences, some of them lethal. please try to remember this person was not able to think rationally.

        • SHLady

          and I know exactly what you are talking about. some serious suicides do not mess around at all (and they are at the point of no return). I have seen it and I have lost loved ones to it.

        • Buckingham Beauty

          (That was 1999, my senior year in high school. I had a classmate who was stuck in traffic on the bridge itself — was it really 14 years ago???)

          And they ended up shooting the guy with a bean bag gun, and he jumped over anyway and lived to be picked up by police boats at the bottom. I think the Key Bridge is even shorter than the old Wilson Bridge was, so why not let him jump and then catch him down there?

        • shortcommute

          Two or three miles… try twenty miles on the Virginia side with the jumper on the Wilson Bridge. It took me almost three hours to go from Vienna to Alexandria.

          I agree a serious jumper would jump, not wait for the police and etc. It is more of a scream for help!!! It’s just sad that both had to pick the time nearest to rush hour.

    • Chris

      Yes, that does sound awful. It is awful.

  • ColFor

    Sad that someone is resorting this and I hope they get it worked out and receive help. I do have to wonder why the Key bridge though…70 feet will hurt but not do the job.

    • Mike Scott

      I work with a view of this. The person is near the bank on the DC side, close to the Whitehurst Highway but still above the water. Don’t know how shallow it is there but he can’t be too far from the bank.

      • Wavy Gravy and the Mashed Potatoes

        Well, I stand corrected. It’s not deep near the shoreline, either, though, in most places.

    • Wavy Gravy and the Mashed Potatoes

      From the pic in TEB’s post, he’s over the Georgetown shoreline. 70 feet into water might not kill you, but anything close to that onto land or a rooftop sure will. This is really sad.

      • Mike Scott

        From my view from Rosslyn he definitely is over water. There are 3 boats (looks like 1 police boat and 2 fire/rescue types) that are very close (but not directly) under.

        And yes, even though it’s dark now it seems like he’s still there.

  • Alison

    Looking out my office window, seems like the Whitehurst Freeway is moving in both directions, so Key Bridge may be open again, unless these are just the cars coming from Canal Rd/M St.

  • Joan Fountain

    I wonder if he is related to the woman in Ballston yesterday.

  • David Mitchell

    Person struck by car at intersection of N Oak St & Key Blvd. Key Blvd blocked in both directions.

  • Arlingtoon

    Some of the comments — on this story, as well as on the Ballston suicide yesterday — reminded me of the fellow on a tractor who succeeded in disrupting rush hour traffic along the Mall. And people were seriously suggesting that a police (or Army) sniper ought to take him out — I guess so they could get to, or from, their work more quickly.

    Please people — have some heart. Can you imagine the torment of these poor souls, that death appears to be an attractive — or maybe their only — option?

    • SHLady


      • CA

        I don’t doubt that they are tormented. I just question as to why they show their torment in the most inconvienant way possible so as to disrupt the lives of tens of thousands of people who are trying to simply go home.

        • SHLady

          because they’re mentally ill is part of it.

        • Burke

          There are more important things in life than you going home.

          • Barry

            Depends on whose life you are talking about really.

            A bunch of emergency equipment just rolled up M Street toward the bridge. Wisc and M is hell on earth right now.

          • SomeGuy

            What’s “important” depends on one’s perspective. Perhaps you and CA don’t share the same one, and that’s okay.

            But this isn’t just about CA getting home. It’s about tens of thousands of people getting home, many of whom might have their own emergencies to deal with. By creating this kind of disturbance, this person has forced a prioritization of his own concerns over everyone else’s, which is inconsiderate.

            I doubt that’s a worry to him, of course. Looks like he has bigger fish to fry, from his perspective. But right or wrong, that explains why a some people might not be so quick to sympathize.

          • mjw703

            How about picking up your child on time from your daycare? Because I couldn’t do that tonight.

          • Jackson

            Ask him for a letter of apology when he recovers.

        • drax

          If they don’t care if the live or die, they don’t care about your commute. Duh.

          • CA

            This person did care whether he lived or died, because he chose to live, and he did persumably care about impacting my and countless others commute, because he could have chosen a less dramatic method. So, uh, duh to you.

          • drax

            First he didn’t much care, then he changed his mind.

            So you actually expect someone to say to themselves, “there’s no hope, I want to die now, but hey, I should probably do it after rush hour.”

    • Blank

      Thanks for this perspective Arlingtoon.

    • Rob

      Meh. Suicide is selfish. I have no sympathy.

      • Selfish

        If you’re going to end it, end it where it affects no one else. Suicide is selfish. Affecting people’s lives is even more selfish. But be glad he’s not going on a shooting rampage instead…

      • SHLady

        I hope none of your loved ones ever get to this point. I have been there and come back. It is the farthest thing from selfish. People who are there truly believe the world would be better without them.

        • Skeptical

          Thank you for saying this. Because one of my loved ones got to this point (privately, but what does it matter?) when I was 600 miles away and had no option of telling her she was loved and made the world a better place. I’m really, really, sick of people who glibly talk about suicide as “selfish.” She would be fifty-nine today, forty years later.

          • shellfish?

            Nope. It’s selfish.

          • Rob

            I’m not being glib. Look at the pain she has caused you and others.

  • henrybennetxiii

    The DC side at Key Bridge is deep and fast. It’s the jump distance that is inadequate. Key bridge is not very high.

    • BBMS

      Guy at the boathouse once told me it’s about 70 ft deep around the bridge abutments.

      • AshtonOaks

        NOAA charts show the water depth between 10 and 25 feet deep around Key Bridge.

        • SHLady

          a person could easily hit the bottom of the riverbed if it’s only 10-25 feet deep and they’re jumping from 70 feet.

          • drax

            Hitting the bottom wouldn’t hurt you at that depth. Hitting the surface of the water is what will hurt you.

  • pedestrian

    Can I walk across?

    • Keiki

      No. No traffic of any kind. Since the jumper is already hanging off the outside by the sidewalk, there’s no walking.

  • David Mitchell

    Key Blvd now open in both directions.

  • weak sauce

    i believe that’s already been done in finer fashion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3py-hfHDz58

  • Blank

    Try a little tenderness.

  • arlingtron

    If this person wants to end it all that needs to be done is let the police release the trapped commuters. They will make short business of this matter.

    • SHLady

      I hope it isn’t anyone you know.

    • Heather

      Lol! “Release the trapped commuters”…they would bring this debacle to a quick close.

    • Arlingtron

      Nothing like an angry mob of commuters to grant this guy’s wish. And let me tell you, shutting down a major artery is an easy way to piss off commuters. At least this person is not taking others’ lives first.

  • Yaaa boiiiii

    Real sh-t

  • really

    M Street in the west end is complete gridlock. I find it fascinating that about every 5 minutes or so a random cop car tries to come screaming up the street with lights blaring and horns honking. There is absolutely nowhere for the cars to move. It takes the cop car like 7 or 8 minutes just to get down this block of M, laying on his horn the whole time. (And I am sure that the other 37 cops/firetrucks/etc. that have been by here in the last hour are not sufficient.) I get that they want/need to be on the scene but the horn and sirens aren’t cutting it. FYI to the other late cops to the bridge party – do not go down M.

    • Tom A

      And what about other people who have real emergencies? An ambulance can’t really drive on the sidewalk. Shoot several bean bag bullets from the side where it would knock him backward. And does nobody know how to use a lasso any more? Otherwise, just shoot him. Suicide by cop is a true coward’s way out.

  • novasteve

    A SWAT team?

    • meh..

      South West Atlanta.

    • Hollywood

      Lol, I thought they wanted him to live?

  • M Street is moving, but not across Key Bridge – The DC end is still closed in both directions, but it looks like Canal is moving somewhat. Lots of folks are making U turns @ M and 34th and Banks is Gridlocked (which means we are backed up into The University)

    They keep jamming more rescue equipment onto the bridge –

    I sure hope they can help this guy – things are so tough out there. Very sad!

  • Bob

    I find it sad, people who still value human life. We are no more important than ants. I say let him jump.

  • Not from Arlington

    I wonder who really did it

    • Jim

      Was it the jumper or the cops?

      • Alex

        It was the jumper. CNN reporting he was wearing flippers. Sad news.

  • Hollywood

    Lol, I thought they wanted him to live?

  • Enough

    Poor soul? I long ago tired of adults that continually make bad choice after bad choice. Not feeling healthy? Go see a doctor — it is not hard to do unless one prefers making bad choices over good choices. (By the way, I have seen starving children, so adults who elect to live like f-ups are not really that sad of a story.)

    • arachne

      This surprised me, so I hope you are open enough to be surprised by it also. When I was depressed, it was very difficult to get professional help. Drs who didn’t call me back, Drs who didn’t take my insurance, Drs who weren’t taking new patients, Drs who needed to know if my insurance would cover a few sessions or unlimited …

      When you’re depressed, you have trouble getting out of bed, let alone following up until you find a Dr who will see you. And when things are bad enough that you pick up a phone to get help, it’s an emergency.

      Terms like “selfish” may be accurate in black and white, but assume a level of control and thought that simply may not, can not be present.

      • SHLady

        let us first start with the concept that the person knows they need help. I definitely didn’t
        after that, I was 100% certain the world would be better off if I was not there. Much better.
        It was the absolute opposite of selfish. I thought I was doing the world a FAVOR.

      • RM

        Been there, agree with you 100%. It can actually be fairly difficult to find a doctor to treat you for depression, for the reasons arachne lists above. I actually pay out of pocket for a more-affordable-than-most doctor because my insurance covers very few psychiatrists in the area.

      • Angela

        I’m sorry to hear that you went through a tough time. As far as getting help goes, there are other options. A medical doctor’s job is centered around medicine, but drugs are not the only form of help. Another option is to find someone to talk to at a religious organization. Talking might help. Exercise helps too, as does time. Also, because I feel strongly about the dangers of psychiatric meds, I feel compelled to post this article. http://mobile.wnd.com/2013/01/the-giant-gaping-hole-in-sandy-hook-reporting/

        • dk (not DK)

          Again, please realize that all these options require a level of effort and persistence that many depressed people lack. Exercise can be a great antidote to depression, but doing it requires an ability to drag oneself out of bed. And time? One of the first casualties of depression is a lack of perspective.

          So many of these comments simply reinforce the stigma associated with mental illness. If that man was tying up traffic because he’d had a heart attack on the bridge, would we be blaming him? Mental illness is an *illness.*

          • Angela

            I understand that being depressed is difficult and don’t mean to stigmatize people with mental health problems. I am saying it is better to do nothing rather than take medication. Antidepressants increase the risk of suicide. I believe most sensible doctors know this, even though powerful, wealthy drug companies control the American Medical association which tells doctors what to do. Good doctors will try to get out of prescribing these drugs – because they know these mind altering drugs are bad for you. Doctors want to help you, not make you worse. I am so grateful that when I had severe anxiety problems, my doctor did not prescribe psych meds for me even though I wanted them and didn’t think I could manage without them. At the time, I did not know the dangers involved with these meds, how delicate the balance of brain chemicals is and how difficult it can be to restore that balance.

  • Tom A

    And what about those stuck in traffic who need their insulin or heart medication. Suicide is an awfully selfish act. Check into a hotel with a bottle of Ambien and some liquor.

    • Jackson

      Haha. What?!? Stuck in traffic without insulin? Where do people come up with this stuff?

  • Heather

    People that pick opportune moments…such as rush hour in DC are doing it for attention. He has and had no intention of jumping. He wants FaceTime and needs help but doesn’t know how to get it. Being a little late getting home is one thing but a lot of us also have children waiting on their mommy’s and daddy’s. We all want to be home and that guy should’ve just stayed home!
    Stop being insensitive to those of us that value home life more than work and others’ drama. Stop burdening those of us that have many burdens already. If you really wanted to end your life. Do it in privacy so no one else has to watch or suffer.

    • NoVA RN

      I hope it’s not your loved one on that bridge, and that you’ve never felt that person’s desperation. Please learn some compassion. You are heartless.

      I hope that the person on the bridge gets the help that they need. Even if they’re “doing it for attention”, it’s obvious that they require some sort of help.

      • Heather

        Yea…no one I know! Not worried. Still stand on every word I said. Dude should’ve stayed home and took care of it in private. The same people calling others insensitive probably sit on TMZ all day reading about useless, depressing stuff in stead of their own lives.

        • Bob

          Heather, you rock!! I want to party with YOU, girl!!

      • SHLady

        thank you so much Nova RN. I have been the person on the bridge and I have lost dear people the same way, If you have not been there, you cannot understand the despair. and if you can’t understand, please give some respect.

    • Nick

      The guy obviously isn’t thinking about your needs. Show some compassion because what if that was your loved one? You wouldn’t be saying the same thing now would you.

    • x-arl

      if you value home life more than work then be a stay at home mom!!!!!!!!!

  • MDP

    The jumper seen in the picture linked above appears to match the description of the suspect reported in an earlier armed robbery. Since he was reported armed with a hand gun, it may be the reason as to why the SWAT team became involved.

    • novasteve

      I can’t think of any other reason why they would sent in a SWAT team to a jumper situation unless they thought he was armed and dangerous.

  • Sam

    You’d think people stuck in traffic would use the time to reflect on how precious their own lives and health are, and give thanks we don’t feel the desperation this man feels.

    • Tom A

      I keep Valium in the car for just such occurrences. Here in San Diego, we had a guy threatening to jump off a major traffic artery bridge (163) onto another interstate (I-8). All were closed for hours. Thank the gods for those side lanes, so we could just drive to the nearest bar. And guess what, he didn’t jump.

  • E

    @ Sam ha, no. I was sitting in that traffic earlier this evening and people were honking left and right. As if honking is going to make anyone move any faster? There was nowhere to go! Now that I know what was going on, I hope the guy doesn’t jump and is okay. It was just a little confusing and frustrating because there was all this traffic but you really can’t see what’s going on from Rosslyn–just seemed like the police felt like blocking off the road for fun or something.

  • vio

    Play “jump” by Van Halen!

  • David Mitchell

    Subject in custody. Bridge not yet open.

    • arachne

      Thank goodness.

  • dd

    Thank you to those who care.

  • AL

    Does anyone have his home address so I can personally give him a dope slap?

  • Fred Davis

    So Sad, but the jumper is RG3.

  • David Mitchell

    Key Bridge opening for traffic from VA to DC at this time.

  • David Mitchell

    All lanes on Key Bridge (both directions) are now open.

  • Chris

    For those of you making jokes about encouraging this guy to jump, please think again.

    Here is an example of where bystanders (most likely) convinced a victim to jump.


    • Sad

      Wow. Just read the article on Dylan. Wow.

    • Greg

      Based on the responses in the Ballston thread yesterday, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if several of those commenters would have been egging him on if they were there.

  • Cate

    Glad to hear that he’s safe. To those of us not in that frame of mind, yes, suicide is selfish. (I’m not even going to touch the problem with the coldhearted brutes that are complaining about being selfish and causing traffic issues) But when somebody is in that state of mind…they honestly believe that the best thing for them, and for the people around them, is not to live anymore. I truly hope none of you ever have to feel like that or have a friend or family member that despondent either. It is painful beyond belief, on both sides.

    • Tabs


    • RS


  • AL

    Surely it couldn’t cost that much to convert the Key Bridge into a covered bridge. And it would stop people from pulling ridiculous stunts like this!

  • Swag

    “A SWAT team is now reportedly on scene.”


    They afraid he’s gonna go hit a bank or something?

  • Cajun

    A Tactical (SWAT) team is often called out during situations such as these because they have the resources readily available for crisis intervention & negotiation. Communication tools & training above the level of the average patrol officer.

    They may have helped save this mans life tonight.

  • x-arl

    If the harsh comments posted here are any indication of the opinions of the world at large, it is obvious that many do not understand mental illness or see it as  a serious problem. No wonder health coverage for mental issues lags so far behind that for physical. 

  • anonymous

    Sometimes we don’t know what it truly means to live until we come face to face with death. In the case of this man, I hope he learned something today that he will never forget, and that he will never feel the need to repeat this.

  • electricbill

    I’m really disgusted by some of the comments here. Some of you really need to take a good hard look at yourselves.

    • sh

      Many of the posters agree with you. A lot of people need to take a good hard look at themselves and get the mental health counseling that they need. If your life is in shambles or it seems like chaos all the time, then for the love of god, get help and stop imposing on so many others. Great point electricbill.

  • jq5516

    It’s wonderful to see they included the number for CrisisLink at the bottom.

  • McChipstah

    I was approaching the Whitehurst about 3:30 yesterday when I saw cars stopping, so I quickly took the left and proceeded to 66 west and smooth sailing! No idea that I avoided a 2-3 hour jam! I commiserate w/those who got stuck but glad dude didn’t take out a classroom of first-graders.


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