A New York woman is citing an unusually high number of suicides by jumping from the George Washington Bridge in a suit seeking a total of $40 million in damages.
Calling the historic structure a “suicide magnet,” Marybeth Donaldson’s lawsuit indicates that her husband was one of several people to die after leaping from the bridge to the Hudson River below last year, as reported by the New York Post.
“In just a five week period in July-August 2017, five people, including Andrew Donaldson lost their lives at the bridge,” according to the court document.
Following that deadly span, construction crews added a taller fence to provide added security. In her lawsuit, however, Marybeth Donaldson asserts that the installation should have been added much earlier.
She blames the Port Authority specifically for failing to act in response to a long history of jumping associated with the structure.
The authority “was aware of the extraordinary number of suicides at the bridge and of the significant public and expert demand for suicide prevention barriers to be installed on the bridge’s walkway in order to thwart what is often a fleeting impulse to jump,” the suit claims.
A reputation for suicide has stuck to the bridge since 1931, when the first person fatally leaped from the structure just a week after it opened.
“However the Port Authority did not begin to install suicide prevention fencing until Sept. 25, 2017 notwithstanding that it was entirely feasible to do so many years earlier,” Marybeth Donaldson argues.
She noted that once the project began, it took less than three months to complete for a relatively low cost. If successful, however, her lawsuit will make the decision to wait far more expensive.
Half of the suit seeks punitive damages for the “unconscionable delay” in addressing the issue. The remaining $20 million is requested as compensatory damages for Andrew Donaldson’s untimely death.
The 49-year-old was an architect in Manhattan whose work included contribution to the Freedom Tower.
[Featured image: AP Photo/Julio Cortez]