WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The Metropolitan Police Department said it is investigating the death of a person found beneath the Taft Bridge.
The preliminary investigation indicates the person may have jumped from the bridge. A New York Times obituary identified the person as Times editor Blake Hounshell. According to the Times, he was 44 years old and spent time working for Politico and Foreign Policy before joining the New York Times.
His death comes several months after community members made a public push for barriers to be erected on the bridge to prevent deaths by suicide.
“I was angry when I heard,” said Chelsea Van Thof. “It kind of brought me back into shock really.”
Van Thof lost her partner, Dr. Peter Tripp, in April of 2022 when he died by suicide on the Taft Bridge. She’s been leading the push to add the barriers ever since.
“I want this barrier because I don’t want anyone to feel this pain,” she said. “Studies show when people see a barrier on their chosen method, a bridge, they don’t go onto a different method that night and they get the gift of time.”
On Wednesday, the District Department of Transportation announced its intentions to install barriers on the bridge.
In a statement, DDOT Director Everett Lott said:
Yesterday’s loss underscores the urgency in our work to add suicide barriers to the Taft Bridge as part of our commitment to develop and maintain a safe and reliable multimodal transportation system. As noted earlier, the historic nature of this bridge requires significant coordination with our federal and regional partners who have all been supportive of this effort. Presently, DDOT has concluded a multi-agency project assessment to include the DC Department of Behavioral Health and we are scoping the design process and securing funding to support this project. We share our condolences with everyone impacted by today’s tragic loss and we encourage anyone in need of support to call 988 for immediate assistance.
“I feel great. I haven’t been able to say I’m excited or satisfied, but today, this is phase one,” said Van Thof. “It was a big hurdle. It was the first hurdle. It’ll be many more months before I can touch this barrier, but today, I have a lot of hope that this is going to be a reality and that we can save people.”
Those struggling can call the suicide and crisis lifeline at 988.