Phones connected to suicide hotline stolen from Foresthill Bridge

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PLACER COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- For nearly half a century, the Foresthill Bridge has towered over the North Fork of the American River. In that time, at least 89 people have taken their lives jumping from California’s highest bridge.

But there have also been 37 people who have been saved.

“Fortunately, what Placer County has implemented is the phone lines and that is a wellness tool,” said Kevin Dredge.

Along with inspiring notes along the bridge, there are also six emergency phones that connect to a suicide hotline.

The phones were installed 20 years ago but recently two of the six phones were stolen.

Dredge has been a longtime advocate of saving people from jumping off the Foresthill Bridge. It’s a way of life he said was only strengthened when a friend of his was contemplating taking their own life.

Dredge said the vandalism of something meant to save lives is extremely upsetting.

“And to have something that we have implemented to help one that's been taken away is just not right,” he told FOX40.

And while there are still four other phones that were not vandalized, Dredge said if a person comes across a phone that isn’t there, that may be the difference between life and death.

“And you say, ‘You know, I’m going to reach out for help. There might be hope,’" Dredge said. "And you open up that phone box and it’s empty. ‘It’s empty. Forget it, I’m jumping.’”

Officials with Placer County’s Department of Public Works said they are the ones who oversee the phones and have contractors that maintain them. They told FOX40 this is the first they have heard of the vandalism and now that they know, they are already looking into it and hope to replace those phones soon.

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