Two jump to their deaths off the Foresthill Bridge in one day

Published: Friday, Jun. 8, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Wednesday was an unusually deadly day at the Foresthill Bridge near Auburn. Within minutes of each other, two people committed suicide by jumping off the span.

Officials said there is no evidence to suggest the two incidents were related.

The deaths bring the number of suicides at the bridge to 64 in its 39-year history, according to an unofficial tally.

At 730-feet high, the Foresthill Bridge is the fourth highest in the country and the highest span in California.

The people who died Wednesday were Jacob Charles Fetsch, 26, of Dobbins and Valerie Gail Garcia, 35, of Auburn. Fetsch was found dead at 4:47 p.m. Garcia was found dead 5:50 p.m., within minutes of the completion of the recovery of Fetsch's body.

"It just makes you wonder whether she saw the activity," said Dena Erwin, a spokesman for the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

Erwin said the bridge has sadly become a destination for people contemplating suicide.

In one incident, a Davis woman who was talked out of jumping and placed on a three-day mental health hold returned to commit suicide two weeks later. "Whatever was bothering her was too much," Erwin said.

The bridge did have a dual suicide in 2005 when husband and wife Bryon and Sallee Kincannon of Brownsville jumped, taking their dog with them.

Modest steps are under way to make it harder for those attempting suicide off the span. A federally funded seismic retrofit and paint job will raise fences from the present 4 feet to 6 feet.

The project won't be completed until late 2013, said Ken Grehm, the county's public works director.

"I hope that it will make a difference," Grehm said. "It will require more work to lift (oneself) over a 6-foot fence."

The bridge also has suicide hotline phones. "It's not a fail-safe solution," Grehm said. "I don't think there is a fail-safe solution."

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