Suicidal Woman Sets Herself Alight, Crashes Car, Jumps Off Bridge, Survives The Experience

A woman in Eugene, Oregon survived all odds when attempting suicide by first setting her car alight, then crashing the vehicle and when that didn’t work, jumping off the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge. It seems it just wasn’t her time to go and she is still alive to tell the tale.

Eric Van Dyke was an eye witness to the incident and dialed 911 at the time it happened. He described the harrowing event to the Register-Guard and explained how he witnessed Mary Gawenda trying desperately to kill herself.

The incident happened on the westbound Interstate 105 in Springfield early Thursday afternoon. According to Van Dyke, Gawenda’s car cut him off while the suicidal woman weaved through the lanes at a speed of around 80 mph.

As Van Dyke dialed 911 to report a dangerous driver, he saw the woman was holding a bottle of lighter fluid and that she appeared to be spraying it all over the interior of her car. He continued to follow her vehicle, as he thought he could see a child on the back seat and urgently tried his best to get first responders to the scene.

It was then that Gawenda had a minor collision with a box truck and hit the center median. Van Dyke realized that this woman was on a serious mission of suicide. Reportedly when the suicidal woman first set the car on fire and crashed it and for a period of around three to five minutes, around five different people stopped their cars in an effort to help Gawenda, including Van Dyke himself.

Each of them used their own fire extinguisher to try and stop the blaze, still believing there was a child in the back seat. Luckily there was no child, but while they were fighting the fire, Gawenda fled the vehicle and Van Dyke saw her jump from the Washington-Jefferson Bridge, falling around 40 feet.

Gawenda was taken to the Sacred Heart Medical Center in RiverBend in Springfield for emergency treatment.

Earlier media reports that said that the suicidal woman was on fire when she left her car. They said that due to this she removed her clothing as she ran to the bridge and jumped. However, according to Van Dyke, while she did suffer burns, she removed the clothing more in an attempt to stop people grabbing at her to try and stop her progress.

Van Dyke suffered tremendously himself through witnessing the harrowing scene and thanked everyone else that stopped in an attempt to help the woman.

“Police officers were telling me they’d never seen anything like it.”

“I’m in pain, and I’m lost?…?I just want to thank everyone who stopped and tried to help.”

He added he has been to a crisis counselor since it happened and is suffering “night terrors.”

“In my sleep, I jump and try to catch her as she’s falling.”

Fortunately the roads were reasonably quiet at the time and according to IOL, Reuters reported the only other person injured was a 40-year-old woman who was in the park underneath the interstate at the time. She was apparently hit by some debris from the car crash but she not seriously injured and according to the police did not require hospitalization.

Van Dyke is continuing to get updates on Gawenda’s condition from the hospital and says he is glad that she survived the experience and that the whole thing is going to be with him for a long time.

At the time of reporting and according to a hospital spokeswoman, Gawenda is still in a critical condition. No further details of her injuries are currently available.

[Image: Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge CC BY-SA 2.0 brx0]

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