Woman, 66, dies after jumping off State Office Building

Police: 'What she was distraught about, at this point we don't know'

Posted: Friday, July 10, 2009

A woman died in an apparent suicide after jumping from the eighth floor balcony of the State Office Building Thursday afternoon.

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David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire
David J. Sheakley / Juneau Empire

Juneau resident Nicole Marechal, 66, was rushed to Bartlett Regional Hospital and pronounced dead.

Police received a report at about 1:15 p.m. about a man talking to a woman standing on the edge of the building. The man, identified as a maintenance worker in the building, had been trying to talk Marechal away from the ledge when officers arrived, according to a police statement.

Police closed off Willoughby Avenue around 1:25 p.m. More than a dozen onlookers gathered nearby. The woman was visibly distraught as she spoke with police.

"(Officers) weren't talking to her about anything specific other than trying to get her to come off the edge," said police spokesman Sgt. Dave Campbell. "She was upset and telling them not to come close to her. What she was distraught about, at this point we don't know."

At about 1:40 p.m., Marechal clenched her fists, tensed her body and closed her eyes. She leaned forward and fell headfirst about 90 feet to the grass below.

"She intentionally went off the edge of the ledge," Sgt. Dave Campbell said. "From talking to everyone that was on the ground watching and talking to the officers up on the ledge, she didn't slip. She just went of the edge."

Amid emergency vehicles and police tape, Willoughby remained closed for about an hour after the incident as officers conducted their investigation. Witnesses stood in shock.

Kathleen Church came upon the scene about five minutes before the woman jumped.

"I saw the way she fell and -" Church paused, "I've never seen nobody do that. I'm shocked. I'm crying for her."

Travis VanLeuven was with a Department of Transportation crew working on the median at the intersection of Willoughby and Egan Drive.

"We noticed her when the police cars arrived," he said. "They blocked off the road, the fire truck showed up. They talked to her, and she heaved herself off the side."

It wasn't something he expected to see.

"I'm still having the reaction," he said.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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