Imagine the relief you would feel upon surviving a car crash on an interstate bridge.

And then the horror of shortly afterward, stepping over the road barrier and plunging into nothing.

Two women died that way in January on an Interstate 5 bridge that spans the South Umpqua River near milepost 112, 4 miles north of Myrtle Creek.

They told emergency dispatchers about the car accident they’d just survived, then mentioned a truck driving toward them. They said they needed to get off the freeway.

And then Amanda Fuller, 32, of Roseburg and Stephanie Thomas, 29, of San Bernadino, California, climbed over a 4-foot bridge railing, and found there was nothing to step onto on the other side. They plummeted 80 feet down to the riverbank, and were both pronounced dead at the scene. A Coos Bay woman did the same thing in 1997.

After a lobbying effort by Fuller’s mother and a first responder who was at the 1997 crash, ODOT agreed to erect 2-foot-tall chain-link fences above the concrete barriers in both the north and southbound lanes. They plan to have the fences up by the middle of next month.

That makes the whole obstruction about 6 feet high, and should act as a warning and deterrent to someone thinking of climbing over in the future.

In the end, it’s important for us all to keep in mind that deaths like these are relatively rare, especially when compared to fatalities from traffic crashes, which killed 496 Oregonians last year.

This accident could have happened on any freeway bridge or overpass, since there’s always a gap between the northbound interstate lanes and the southbound lanes. Still, it’s probably not necessary for ODOT to shell out the cash right away to place fences on every pair of freeway bridges. The cost for this one fencing project alone was $63,000.

But when renovations are already underway on a bridge, it’s a natural safety precaution that would make up just a small portion of the overall budget.

It seems to us like that’s the time when it would make good sense to add additional fences.

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(3) comments


Am I missing something or did the story say the girls " climbed the fence" to escape being hit. If the bridge had a sidewalk there would of been no need to jump. A fence can also be dangerous to pedestrians and bicycles unles there is a lane for them. Like you said they climbed the fence. As a kid we climbed fences to cross freeways, hunt, fish, swim or a short cut home. A fence may be a bandaid but is definately not a solution. A person who wants to commit suicide will climb that fence.


@larry ...there was no fence. They climbed over the barrier divider when the dispatch told them that they should "get off of the road". It is very dark and this article does not mention the 2 other incidents that occured here. It is a crime that the barticades or lighting was not amended within days of tbe first incident or surely the second. I object to how thebstory has been amended to read that "before the dispatcher coukd warn them they jumped over the barrier" . White wash. I remember what i read. This was an incident that never should have hapoened. Ever. But especially once ODOT knew there was a problem and it was allowed to mount to 4 incidents, to bring up the cost is criminal.


Still think that lighting would be a better fix then a fence. Make it solar and no power needed.

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