SAN FRANCISCO – Police are searching for a woman who emerged from the icy bay water Wednesday morning wearing a soaking wet black dress and no shoes after she either jumped or fell from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge trying to evade police in a stolen car.
California Highway Patrol Officer Vu Williams said several people called 911 and reported seeing the woman near the toll plaza about 6 a.m. Wednesday — roughly four hours after CHP officers responded to reports of a single-vehicle crash on the bridge's eastbound lanes.
Williams said the woman climbed over a guardrail and either slipped or jumped about 70 feet into the water.
"We really want to find her to make sure she is OK," he said.
On the western span of the bridge, the fall is about 200 feet, and survival is infrequent.
Vu said he did not know how many others had survived the shorter fall into the bay.
Further proof that the woman — whose name has not been released — lived came when an unidentified dump truck driver went to the Oakland office of the CHP to report that he had picked up a female hitchhiker and driven her to an undisclosed location. The hitchhiker matched the description of the woman seen wearing wet clothing, Vu said.
The woman, who Vu said is in her mid-20s, was among three people who ran from the crash. The two passengers were detained, questioned and released, Vu said.
The car was stolen from Los Angeles, he said. No arrests were made.
In addition to the CHP, the U.S. Coast Guard and Oakland firefighters searched the water for the woman.
A fall 70 feet is quite different from a fall from the Golden Gate Bridge, which is about 245 feet down. More than 1,500 people have jumped from that span since it opened in 1937. Less than 1 percent survive the fall.
Every week, people contemplating suicide are pulled from that bridge.