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Duke Ellington Bridge Commotion Last Night on Calvert Street in Woodley Park

by Prince Of Petworth November 2, 2012 at 9:47 am 32 Comments

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Dear PoPville,

Didn’t know if any readers had emailed in about the incident that occurred on the Calvert St bridge between Woodley Park and Adams Morgan this evening. I was trying to catch the circulator around 6:30 when someone indicated that the bridge was closed due to someone “trying to jump who was dangling off the side of the bridge”. Right around that time about 3 fire trucks and a handful of emergency vehicles were speeding toward the bridge from Adams Morgan. I walked to Columbia Heights instead of catching the bus, and returning home hours later (almost 11:30 PM) still saw police, and this time the street was completely shut off at Calvert and Lanier going toward the bridge. The officer said someone had tried to pull something but had been accosted, without giving further detail. There were still a ton of flashing lights in the vicinity of the bridge around 11:30. Does anyone know what happened? I hope if someone was trying to pull something, they are okay.. just a bizarre incident overall.

MPD tweeted:

“Units are on the scene Calvert street bridge with a person threatening to jump” which was thankfully resolved without incident. I haven’t heard any about any other incidents.

  • Anonymous

    I got diverted trying to cross the bridge at around 7pm and there were firetrucks and many many police officers… coming back around 10:30, the same.. sadly, the first thing i thought was that someone jumped. 🙁

  • They shut down Beech Dr and totally $@##%ed the commute.

  • ama

    I tried to cross the bridge about 10:30pm. Others standing around said it had been closed for over 4 hours at that point, and that someone had climbed over the fence and was threatening to jump. I googled when I got home and CBS Local said over 30 police on the scene, plus a handful of ambulances and firetrucks, as well as a negotiator.

    Apparently they talked him off the ledge and took him into police custody shortly after 11pm.

    • Relieved to hear that they talked the guy down.

    • Elza

      Really glad to hear they were OK!

  • This bridge is called Suicide Bridge. I grew up having to cross this bridge to go to school (from 1st to 12th grades) and remember looking down every morning to see if someone was at the bottom. I especially remember when the bars went up because of all of the jumpers. Strange since there is another bridge right next door that seemed to no interest people to jump off from.

    • sv

      I’ve also wondered why the Ellington Bridge is so fortified when the Taft Bridge is completely unprotected.

      • UStreeter

        same reasons folks jump off the golden gate, but no one jumps off the bay bridge. people tend to jump where others have jumped. it gets the idea in their head, gets romanticized, etc. weird, right? but people always say “well, if you fortify X place, then folks will just kill themselves another way, by, say, jumping off Y place.” but the weird part, i think, is that folks dont. there are a lot of examples of this across the country. when you put up barriers around X bridge, folks don’t just decide to jump off of Y bridge.

      • There have been studies on the two bridges – how placing barriers on one did not prompt higher jump rates on the other. Some countries have placed barriers on bridges following the Duke Ellington model.

        • Tom

          For people interested in the psychology of suicide bridges there is a documentary called The Bridge, which is mainly focused on The Golden Gate Bridge. I should warn that it’s pretty intense but I found it very interesting.

          • Thanks for the rec. I had no idea that this phenomenon existed. I will check it out.

          • I saw that movie. A couple months later I was in SF for a business meeting. On an early morning jog across the bridge the movie became real. I saw the Coast Guard boat race from its base in Marin to the bridge. A flare was in the water. Somebody had just jumped. It was freaky as hell.

            I don’t think this is uncommon. I saw a jumper in Adams Morgan a few years ago.

    • Anonymous

      what year did the bars go up?

      • 1986

        Within a month, I remember someone had pulled apart some of the bars. Most tried to aim to land on the water. It was sick to know this when your a kid having to walk this bridge to go Elementary School.

    • Anonymous

      One really logical theory is that the Ellington Bridge is on the way back from all the bars (people walking to Metro or back to residence in Woodley Park), and the other, not so much the bar traffic, some coming back intoxicated after already being in a depressed state.

  • Anonymous

    This happens on the Ellington Bridge maybe once or twice a year.

  • neednewhob

    I live very close to the bridge, and didn’t hear or notice anything! Very bizarre. Glad to hear no one was injured…

  • jdc

    Glad no one was injured and I hope this person gets the help they need. This does explain why Conn Ave traffic was backed-up and in grid lock at 7pm last night down to McPherson Sq.

  • sv

    Yep I was on a 96 bus around 6:30 pm when we got stopped at the bridge and watched the commotion for a while. The bus finally turned around and detoured around it. The red line was had major delays with some track problem (which is why I was on the bus in the first place). That said, the drivers didn’t seem to be faring any better because it was a total mess around there.

    Some on the bus were making snarky remarks, “let him jump!” etc. I was beyond tired with a raging headache and wanted to get home as much as the next person, but as someone who has family members with mental illness, I’m glad this was resolved safely.

    • Ugh, some people can be huge assholes. These are one of those things that I will call other people out on, as I have multiple friends and family members who have successfully committed or attempted suicide. People can’t be bothered to be inconvenienced when it comes to helping the mentally ill that surround us everyday.

      • Elza

        Totally agree. When people complain about and laugh at Metro suicides it always upsets me.

    • The mess on metro actually saved me from this situation. I took the green line instead of the red line. Once I hear the bus driver talking to a passenger about having to turn around because the bridge was closed, I was actually glad metro was a cluster. Glad is not the right word…I wasn’t annoyed with metro for their mess.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll bet a lot fewer people would threaten to jump if the standard response was to just to either ignore them or yank them off (and if they jump when police attempt to retrieve them, they jump). It is absurd that one person’s need for attention is so strongly rewarded.

    • Rich

      You’re assuming this is a “rational” process like buying a Honda instead of Ford (actually that process isn’t always all that rational either). Hopefully, you never find yourself out of options and ready to jump, with thoughtless people like you as the only ones around.

      • anon

        Emphatic +1.

    • People don’t threaten to jump off a bridge because they’re craving attention and want to disrupt everyone’s evening commute. They do it because they are mentally ill and see no other way out of their troubles. By your logic we should stop treating cancer, since by leaving the disease alone it would learn there’s no point infecting people.

      Try feeling a little compassion for your fellow man. Or at least thinking of someone besides yourself.

      • +100

        If you don’t want to deal with the problems that come with being in close proximity of other people, then don’t live in the city. Dealing with the mentally issue is merely one of those issues. There’s plenty of rural space in the middle the country where you can live a completely un-bothered and self absorbed life. I’m sure they’d appreciate your tax payments.

    • AllTheThings

      Other people’s brains physically work differently than yours does, though.

      If there is one thing that makes me angry and sad, it is lack of compassion for mental illness like this. There but for the grace of god go all of us…

  • slc

    I got caught in this for a little while yesterday. A few people were being really rude to the cops, giving them attitude for not being allowed to cross the bridge. It was really depressing to see people behave so selfishly when someone was clearly in distress. I’m glad to hear he didn’t jump.

    • Tom

      I see you’re assuming the individual was male.

      • slc

        Not assuming anything. When I talked to the cop last night, he said a man was threatening to jump. I see you’re assuming I’m making assumptions 🙂

        • Tom

          Well played 🙂


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