Pelosi Remarks at Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Deterrent System Ceremony
San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Senator Dianne Feinstein, Assemblymember Phil Ting and community leaders to commemorate the newly installed suicide deterrent system on the Golden Gate Bridge. Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:
“Good morning, everyone. What a bittersweet day it is – the joy of the prospect of saving lives, the sadness of those we’ve lost.
“Dick went through a long list of those we should be grateful to – and we are. He actually gave my speech, so I will associate myself with his remarks, in acknowledging all who did so much, from our friends in Labor to Kimberlyrenee Gamboa, the families of those who are here and everyone he mentioned.
“My friends, today we are here to observe a labor of love. Today belongs to the love and leadership of every family – like Kimberlyrenee’s and others here – every friend and loved one, who turned their grief into a powerful call for action to prevent suicide on our beloved bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is a source of immense pride for the San Francisco Bay Area. But, for far too many families in our community, it has also been a place of pain.
“Last year, 233 people came to the bridge to harm themselves. Thanks to the heroic compassion and work of the bridge patrol officers and the men and women who staffed crisis call lines – [which] so many of you were a part of – 184 were rescued.
“With this ceremony, we mark the beginning of construction on a system that will save countless more lives. The start of construction of this barrier is an achievement many years in the making. I accept Dick’s comments on behalf of so many people, who work so hard to make that happen over time and in that particular appropriations.
“Of course, our great Senator, Dianne Feinstein – a Member of the Appropriations Committee and a leader in the Congress. We will be hearing from her. I want to acknowledge her and also Senator Barbara Boxer, who was so much a part of it. Who, she and I at one point represented the bridge, she one half I the other half, and now [Congressman] Jared Huffman does, and we’ll hear from him as well. I want to also acknowledge [Congresswoman] Lynn Woolsey who was so much a part of this over time.
“We know that it’s a federal and state [issue], [Assemblyman] Phil Ting’s here to talk about the state’s participation because some of our funds have to go through that route, [Supervisor] Tom Ammiano knows that, it’s wonderful that you’re here Tom.
“And I’m proud to have been part of our Bay Area delegation taking added provisions to the 2014 highway and transit bill that have allowed federal funds to be used for life saving safety barriers and nets, restored $125 million dollars and pass through federal funding to add this vital protection for our beautiful bridge.
“That was double what we had estimated when we started the fight but things got more costly and the responsibility more urgent. So people would say to us isn’t that a lot of money for a net? And I’d said: ‘No, it’s not a lot of money for a life, for all of these lives that will be saved.’
“Going on the hard work of our partnership with CalTrans and Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Golden Gate Bridge Board, General Manager Denis Mulligan we are moving forward. But of course, really, none of this would be possible without the families.
“Kimberlyrenee will speak for the families, thank you Kimberlyrenee for being here, for the Gamboa family and so many others who I have met and heard your sad stories. But she has been there, he has been there, meeting after meeting. You’re here today so that we can thank you, because again, none of this would have been possible without the stories that you have to tell. And we have to continue our conversations about mental health parity, funding for mental health and all of those other issues.
“But today we want to remove one obstacle, you’re using your grief to save other lives. It’s really something I’m sure your family members you lost would be very, very proud of, so we all thank you.
“Together, we gather in memory of every family member, and every family that has lost a loved one on this bridge. The urgency of all we might spare from this suffering.
“Together, we are providing a critical second chance, maybe more than that for troubled young and old, men and women often acting on often impulsive thoughts.
“Together, we honor the deep moral responsibility to save lives wherever and whenever we can. In this Holy season, of Easter and Passover, we recognize again and again, that every single life is so valuable. In every one of them a spark of divinity, in every one of them a child of God, every one of them precious, precious to us. Every loss, though it be in your family, is a loss to all of us.
“Together, we are ensuring that this magnificent landmark stands as a faithful companion for all San Franciscans, Bay Area, everyone that comes here, while inspiring future generations to come but not to identify it in any way with the tragedy that we have identified it with so far.
“Take great pride, each and every one of you that your tears, your grief, your sadness, you’re life savers. Thank you we’re all in your debt!”