It was midday on the Golden Gate Bridge last week when 25-year-old Eric Atkinson chose to end his life.
He did so abruptly, abandoning his vehicle and flinging himself over the waist-high rail of the fabled, rust-colored span.Like the 999 known victims before him, Atkinson's body fell roughly 220 feet, hitting the water at about 80 mph. The impact likely killed him.
Little is known of Atkinson's life except how he chose to end it.
Authorities say they don't know what led him to the bridge or whether he was aware that his jump would be recorded as a morbid milestone: the 1,000th Golden Gate suicide.
"He just got out, walked over and jumped," said California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Baker, whose agency, until recently, has tracked bridge suicides. "When people make up their mind to go, they go."
Authorities haven't recovered Atkinson's body. His car was found on the bridge and somebody witnessed his leap, Baker said.
While the CHP confirmed the details of Atkinson's July 3 jump, it has refused to confirm the tally of those who plunged to their deaths. The agency stopped counting weeks ago, fearful that publicity surrounding the milestone might trigger the next jump.
The CHP's official count stopped at 997 on June 5. With two additional suicides in June - the 999th on June 28 - Atkinson's jump became the 1,000th on record.
"That would be your deduction," said CHP officer Jerry Monge. "Call it an approximation."
Bridge Manager Robert Warren said the CHP's figure accounts only for people who were seen jumping, or whose bodies were recovered. Most likely, there have been dozens of unmarked deaths.
"There's no such thing as the 1,000th, that's what we've been saying all along," Warren said Monday.