Seattle Office Routine: Coffee, Email, Watch for Suicidal Jumpers

ByABC News
December 12, 2006, 6:17 PM

Dec. 13, 2006 — -- Troy Gilliland arrives at his office early in the morning to take in the breathtaking sunrise views of Seattle's historic Aurora Bridge as he drinks his coffee and checks e-mail. But on Dec. 9, he did a double take. There was a bloodied, crumpled body in the parking lot only 20 feet below his window.

"I looked closer and my stomach started to turn," said Gilliland, a 36-year-old engineering manager who works for the semiconductor chip manufacturing company Impinj. "The body was lying in an odd position and blood was coming out."

Gilliland said he and his co-workers, whose office cubicles sit along windows overlooking the 75-year-old half-mile-long bridge, have seen at least 10 other suicide jumps in the last year. And four of them have landed right in their parking lot.

"It's been an ongoing theme," said Gilliland. "You see a body in the parking lot and look at the bridge and see a vacant car with the door open. It gives you a sick feeling in the stomach -- how could someone be that despondent?"

The residents in this funky residential colony in the Fremont section of Seattle call them "jumpers," and Washington state officials report about 50 of them have leaped to their death in the last decade, nine of them this year.

The office block where Gilliland works houses 400 to 500 employees from four or five companies, including the software giant Adobe and sportswear retailer Cutter & Buck. Their shared lot spans about 300 yards on the northwest side of the bridge, and those who drive must pass under the bridge to park their cars.

A woman who jumped to her death this month landed only one foot away from a pick-up truck. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported earlier this year that one jumper actually fell on an SUV while the driver was inside. The body struck the passenger side, and the driver was not hurt.

Not only are the falling bodies disturbing to employees, but so are the off-putting sirens, ambulances and police who cordon off the lot in the aftermath of the jumps.