Golden Gate Bridge Climber Custody

Golden Gate Bridge Climber Custody, The security system protecting the Golden Gate Bridge from terrorist attacks is not impregnable, bridge officials acknowledged Friday after a suicidal man spent a windy, cold night perched at the very top of the bridge’s south tower.

The man, whose name was not released, may have climbed painters’ scaffolding near the middle of the span around 6:15 p.m. Thursday, swung around a fence designed to keep people from climbing the cable and scurried to the top of the south tower, which stands 500 feet above the roadway, police said. A little later, he reappeared and came close enough to speak with crisis negotiators.

The man, described by police as homeless and disturbed, told them he wanted to kill himself and then disappeared back into the fog around 8:15 p.m. Police did not know his whereabouts until 9:45 a.m. Friday, when a California Highway Patrol SWAT team located him at the top of the south tower. He was detained and taken to the psychiatric ward at San Francisco General Hospital for observation.

Bridge authorities said they will spend the next few days studying flaws in their security that allowed a man to get around a metal fence designed to keep people from climbing the suspension cables.

The 15-hour drama began when a passer-by saw the man and called police, said Sgt. Diane McDermott, a CHP spokeswoman. Sensors and cameras later picked him up as he climbed the cable.

“All those systems worked as planned. What didn’t work was that someone got over, under or through the barriers,” said Kary Witt, the bridge manager. “It certainly should be difficult for someone to do what he did, and it is difficult.”

While security experts expressed concern that one man could so easily breach the bridge’s defenses, they cautioned that the actions of one troubled man don’t mean the bridge is more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

“It doesn’t really concern me that much, because I want to know what he could have really done,” said Henry Willis, associate director of the Rand Homeland Security and Defense Center. “Now, if he could have gotten an entire truck of explosives in there, that would be a different story. But he couldn’t.”

In fact, bridge and police officials said they very quickly determined that the man was not a terrorist threat but someone who might be suffering from a mental disorder, said Witt, who would not elaborate on how police officers reached that conclusion. Two hours into the episode, the man told negotiators he wanted to kill himself.
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