County News

As a result of a dramatic increase in the number of suicides from Midgley Bridge last year, the Sedona Fire District is hoping it’s just one of several voices to encourage the state to make some changes.

SFD Board Chairman Ty Montgomery drafted a letter to John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation.

In it he urges the state to take action in helping to reduce the number of suicides from the bridge. In the final six months of 2015, there were four suicides — two women and two men.

The letter was discussed and approved during the Wednesday, Jan. 20, Governing Board meeting.

“As you may be aware, over the past months and years, there have been a number of suicides which occurred as a result of individuals jumping from Midgley Bridge in Sedona,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, there has been a marked rise in these events recently. It has garnered some media attention, and we are concerned that in spite of local community efforts, there will continue to be loss of life.”

He said as an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting life, the district feels it has a vested interest in exploring all avenues to prevent any further events such as these.

“Not only is the loss of life tragic, but the profoundly negative effect it has on our community and our emergency providers who respond to these events cannot be measured,” Montgomery said. “We would like to look at any and all possibilities to prevent further tragedies, and ensure that Sedona and Midgley Bridge do not become a suicide destination, as has happened in other places such as San Francisco and its Golden Gate Bridge.”

Community efforts to date include posting signs with a local suicide help line, as well as community awareness and teaching. He said any further physical interventions or alterations to the structure, are not within SFD’s jurisdiction since the bridge is owned by ADOT.

“We ask as a fire district, and as a community, that all options be urgently explored to prevent further loss of life from Midgley Bridge,” he wrote. “Entities in other communities with similar problems have had success with multiple approaches, and we would ask that a formal exploration be undertaken of options that may help physically prevent further loss of life.” He concluded by asking that this be considered without delay, and offered the district’s support.

“I think that was really well written,” board member Tim Ernster said.

Sedona City Clerk Susan Irvine confirmed that City Manager Justin Clifton will be drafting a similar letter, which will come before the City Council on Feb. 9. Even though the bridge is not within Sedona city limits, its officers are usually the first to respond to a call of a jumper because of its proximity to town.

There have already been meetings between representatives from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, SFD and ADOT to discuss the matter. But so far, nothing has been approved as a way to reduce the number of jumpers from the bridge.


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