The Intriguing Man Who Jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and Was Saved by a Sea Lion
This advice will make you rethink your life.
All he wanted was to be seen that day.
He got on the bus and sat at the very back. As he sat there, his eyes became a waterfall of tears. The desperate thought going through his mind was a yearning for one person on that bus to say “are you okay?”
The bus came to the end of the line. He walked one final lap of the bus and then arrived next to the bus driver. Desperately inside he was hoping the bus driver would notice something was wrong… that he would notice his pain, without him having to open his mouth.
One last hope. His world came crashing down.
“Come on kid, get off the bus. I got to go.”
It was the last stop.
A guy to the left pointed at the 19-year-old. He said to the person on his left, “what the hell is wrong with that kid?” while smiling.
The young man heard those words. His bad day got worse. People were not only blind to his cries for help, but they took his situation and made fun of it.
“Nobody cares — that’s it,” he thought to himself quietly as he stepped off the bus one last time.
His body started to react to the emotion of what was to come next. Emotion was taking over his entire body. His heart started to pound in and out of his chest. Tears continued to stream from his eyes, but this time they became like a firehose.
It was the final straw. He knew what he had to do and it wasn’t pretty. He formulated an escape plan from Earth in his head.
Suddenly he found himself standing on the Golden Gate Bridge Walkway. There was a tiny rail a child could walk over, standing between him and the raging ocean seas below him. He looked down at the ocean water beneath him and contemplated his life.
In a moment of desperation he walked away from the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge, towards the traffic of cars that didn’t seem to care about him either, and then got a run up. He ran as fast as he could towards the edge of the bridge and threw himself over the rail.
As soon as he was in the air, he felt instant regret for the decision to jump.
The fall from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to the seas below was 220 Feet. This equated to 25 stories at 75 miles an hour in only 4 seconds.
During those few seconds, all he could think to himself was “I don’t want to die, god please save me.”
As his emotionally depleted body hit the waters below the Golden Gate, a vacuum sucked him under 70 feet. The fall rendered his legs instantly immobile. His spine had shattered too. A spineless man without the use of his legs was unlikely to be able to swim to the shore in time to save his own life and survive his regret of jumping off.
Still, he wasn’t ready to die.
From 70 feet deep in the ocean, he swam upwards towards the surface with nothing but his arms, and only one breath of air. The first miracle.
Once he arrived at the surface of the ocean below the Golden Gate, things got harder. The boots he had on were waterlogged and dragged him back under the water. He would manage to get his head out of the water and then the perils of the seas would push his head right back under again.
Panic starts to set in as he struggles to stay afloat. The recurring thought “I don’t want to die, please save me, I made a mistake,” keeps bouncing around in his ahead. There was no way he wanted to drown. People would have thought he wanted this moment to occur if they found him dead. That was a lie. He had a lapse in thinking and made a huge mistake.
Survival became telling the truth to the world about his mistake.
The freezing cold water he was in was the same water used to keep inmates from the nearby Alcatraz Prison from escaping and ever surviving the swim to the shores of San Fran freedom.
The situation became worse. Something began to circle underneath him. Instantly, he assumed it was a shark, given where he was. The body of the animal looked “large, slimy and very alive.”
The thought of the impending shark bite haunted him.
The animal circled around him. Instead of attacking him, the animal began to act strangely. The animal took its position below his sea battered body.
The animal acted like a lifeguard and kept his head above water so he wouldn’t drown, by acting as a soft mattress of care that the world hadn’t provided him earlier that day.
His position in the water changed. He was now lying on his back and being kept afloat by this animal. It was only a matter of time before this thing bit him, right?
While all of this was going on below the Golden Gate, people above were looking down. They saw the animal, too, and later reported it was a sea lion.
The sea lion kept the man afloat until the San Francisco Coast Guard arrived.
They took over the rescue from the sea lion and dragged him into their boat, saving his life.
“My son has just jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge,” he tells his secretary as he drives to the hospital.
Lying in the hospital bed is his son who’s lucky to be alive. As soon as his father walks into the room, tears come streaming from his face — the same firehose of emotion he had felt earlier in the day before his mistake.
“Dad, I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry.”
His father walks over to him and places his hand on his forehead.
“You are going to be okay, I promise.”
A year after that fateful day, his dad asked him to pick a flower on the drive back to the Golden Gate Bridge. He chose a purple tulip with yellow inside.
They arrived at the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, together. He didn’t want to walk over to the bridge because he was scared. His father urged him to so he could get closure from this chapter in his life.
They walked towards the bridge. His father said “show me where.” There was no mistake which rail it was. He didn’t even have to try and find it. They walked over to the rail.
The two of them then stood there and held the flower over the rail. And then his father instructed him to drop the flower, so he did.
The two of them watched the flower make its journey down to the same spot where both their lives had changed forever only a year before.
The flower hit the water and made a tiny ripple effect. Two feet to the right of the flower at that exact moment, a sea lion popped out from the water. They weren’t sure it was the same sea lion, but something told them it was.
It was as if the sea lion came back to reinforce the message of humanity: we’re all in this together and everybody is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Be a sea lion and help someone who desperately needs it because they made a mistake.
This is the story of Kevin Hines. Kevin says the thoughts that led him to the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge with a sea lion are still there today.
It’s not that he doesn’t have these dangerous thoughts anymore. It’s that he knows how to cope with them and beat them.
His biggest mistake was trying to beat these thoughts alone. Eventually, when you’re alone with dark thoughts, your thoughts take over and win. Kevin managed to pick himself back up because he built a support network around him.
I read Kevin’s story and was blown away. I, too, have suffered from a different kind of mental illness to Kevin. I know what it’s like to be the boy on the bus who is too afraid to ask for help and have everybody laugh at them.
Takeaway#1: Asking for help can save your life.
Takeaway#2: Be the miracle sea lion in another person’s life.