33 Years Ago Mom Jumped to Her Death with 3-Yr-Old in Arms, But Toddler Survived. Here's Her Story


In August 1985, 24-year-old Angelica Gomez drove to the San Diego–Coronado Bridge in her green Ford Pinto. She brought her 3-year-old daughter along.

With the little girl in her arms, Gomez got out of the car and jumped off the bridge to her death. Severe depression had gotten a hold of her as she went through a divorce from her husband and led her to hold onto her daughter as she committed suicide.

Their bodies were found by fisherman who attempted to resuscitate them both. Miraculously, the 3-year-old survived.

The young girl suffered a severe cataract in her right eye as well as a broken hip, leaving her to wear an eye patch and body cast for months. Even so, she had no memory of the fall, and told her friends she’d had an accident at the park.

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Bertha Loaiza, now 36, was the 3-year-old survivor. Her maternal grandparents raised her without explaining the story of how her mother died.

Loaiza believed the cause of her mother’s death was a car crash, until the age of 17 when she found evidence suggesting otherwise. A VHS news tape containing news coverage about the suicide changed everything for her.

The teen felt understandably betrayed. She entered an entirely new grieving process over the mother she lost to suicide.

The question of why her mother decided bring her along when she jumped haunted Loaiza. She learned her mother hit the water first and shielded her baby’s body.

Loaiza told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “People with severe depression are in a really dark, ugly world, and I think she brought me with her because she believed she was the only one who could best take care of me… She hurt me, but she saved me, too.”

Loaiza’s story does not end with her miraculous survival. She hopes that sharing her story with the Coronado San Diego Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention will stop others from doing the same thing her mother did 33 years ago.

“The ledge is not high enough. We need to put more barriers,” she said to KGTV.

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She hopes that additional barriers would stop those contemplating suicide at the bridge and give them time to see the sign with the suicide helpline’s phone number on it. Even though Loaiza will never know the exact reason for mother’s decisions, she has tried to understand.

Loaiza has two children, and as she has watched them grow up, she cannot fathom how her mother got to such a bad place. Loaiza has decided to shift her focus from understanding her mother to using her story to help others who are battling suicidal thoughts and depression.

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Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College.
Carolyn Fultz is a former contributor for Liftable Media. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Hope College. Carolyn's writing has been featured in both online and print media, including Just Between Us magazine. She resides in Phoenix with her husband and children.
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