An 18-year-old woman has been identified as the “friend” who pushed a 16-year-old girl off of a bridge in Washington state causing her to be seriously injured. Taylor Smith shoved Jordan Holgerson off the bridge on August 7 after Holgerson decided she was too scared to jump, Holgerson’s family told The Sun newspaper. The incident was caught on video, which went viral around the world.
Police charged Smith with reckless endangerment. She pleaded not guilty to the charge during her arraignment on September 7, according to ABC News. Smith was ordered to not contact Holgerson. “I accept the charges maturely and all I can do is hope for the best for Jordan and myself,” Smith told ABC News.
Smith was a family friend, but she has been criticized by Holgerson’s relatives and friends, along with people on social media, for her unfriendly action. “Friends don’t push someone from that high,” Vanessa Holgerson told KOIN-TV. “I think she tried to do it jokingly and didn’t think what could have happened. You don’t really play around at 60 feet.” Holgerson told reporters she is “a lot more careful” about the friends she chooses now.
Holgerson, of Kalama, was hospitalized until August 10. Police are investigating the incident, but no charges have been filed against Smith. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office confirmed she is the suspect in the investigation on August 14, according to The Columbian. Smith has not commented publicly about the incident and did not respond to requests for comment from Heavy. Holgerson spoke out from the hospital where she was being treated, telling reporters, “I could have died, easily.”
Dr. MaryClare Sarff, a surgeon who was on the trauma team that treated Holgerson, agreed that Holgerson could have been killed by the impact, according to KPTV. The video shows Holgerson being pushed off the bridge by Smith without her realizing what was happening, so she did not have the time to brace for impact, she said. Holgerson hit the water like a belly flop, causing severe injuries to her right side. Sarff told reporters, “She fell onto water, which people might say isn’t that bad because it’s water, but when you’re falling from that height the water is like concrete. She’s really lucky that she wasn’t very injured, considering. If she had fallen a different way, she could have broken her neck, she could be a quadriplegic.”
Sarff added, “When you fall three times your height, 50 percent of people will die.”
The incident happened at Moulton Falls in Yacolt, Washington, on the Lewis River in Clark County. According to KPTV, people were still jumping off the bridge in the days after the video went viral, with some saying they learned about the location because of the news coverage. Authorities say it is not legal to jump off the bridge and firefighters have responded to four injuries there already this summer, the news station reports. Holgerson said she had been swimming in the area before and had seen people jump off the bridge and be OK, but she is now warning people not to do it. “I just, you know, don’t suggest going up to a 60-foot bridge. Don’t climb up there,” she told The Longview Daily News.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Holgerson, Who Says She ‘Blacked Out’ Mid-Air, Suffered Broken Ribs & a Lung Injury in the 50-Foot Fall Caught on Video
A video of the incident, which you can watch above, has gone viral. In the video, Jordan Holgerson, dressed in a swimsuit, can be seen standing on the bridge on the open side of the railing as a group of people watches. Holgerson appears to be hesitating and says doesn’t want to jump. “No, I won’t go in,” she says to someone next to her, as another person counts down, “3…2..” She then says, “no…” when suddenly a woman behind her, identified as Taylor Smith, 18, a family friend, shoves her by the shoulders, sending Holgerson off the bridge.
“I went to the top of the bridge and my other – my friend … she came up to the bridge with me,” Holgerson told KATU-TV. “And so, she was counting down, but I didn’t think anything of it. And I was like, ‘No, don’t count down, like, I won’t go if you count down. I’m not ready.’ And then, she pushed me.”
Holgerson can be seen falling face down with her arms failing. She screams and then a loud splash can be heard as she hit the water. She fell about 50 feet. Holgerson said she thinks she blacked out mid-air.
“In the air I think I might have fainted. But when I hit the water I was definitely awake and aware,” she told reporters at a press conference at the hospital. She said she tried to push herself forward so she could fall straight and hit the water feet first. “But that didn’t work. I went under and I thought I was swimming fine, but I don’t know. I couldn’t breathe, so that’s all I could really think about.”
Someone jumped into the water from the ground and pulled her to safety. “And then an EMT that was off-duty helped me onto the rocks and just a whole bunch of people surrounding me were helping me, calming me down,” Holgerson told KATU.
An ambulance arrived and she was rushed to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, about 2:45 p.m. Holgerson suffered five cracked ribs and other internal injuries, including to her lungs, after the fall, but her mother told The Long View Daily News that she is going to recover and does not have any permanent injuries. “She is lucky,” Genelle Holgerson, a medial assistant at a Longview, Washington, hospital told the newspaper.
According to her family, “She is very lucky to be alive after this terrible incident but still suffers great injuries from the impact of hitting the water on her side at that distance. She suffers from 5 broken ribs, 2 punctured lungs, air bubbles in her lungs, the lining in her uterus is damaged, she has a lump in her throat, and is covered in unsightly bruises. She can hardly move or breath and is in pain constantly.”
Holgerson will need several weeks to recover from her injuries. A GoFundMe has been set up by her family to help with medical expenses. “Jordan is home now and taking it one day at a time. She has an amazing support system from family and friends. She is so thankful for all the kind words and everyone’s prayers,” her family said on the GoFundMe page.
Kristie Morgan, who started the page, wrote, “Her mother has been by her side since the accident and has to take time from work to care for her as Jordan can not be left alone due to her injuries. Her medical bill’s are outstanding and my sister is a single mother of four kids. They could use all the help they can get at this time. Whether it’s a dollar, a prayer, or keeping our family in your thoughts. It is all appreciated at this time. Please share and help at this time of need. I will post more updates on her health and this story as it progresses, thanks for all the support from the community across the globe, it has been overwhelmingly appreciated.”
Holgerson said at her press conference, “I’m thankful for my helpers and all my other helpers. A lot of people who I don’t know who are helpers on the Internet.”
2. Smith, Who Posted Instagram Photos at a County Fair, Has Been Acting Like She ‘Isn’t Sorry & Doesn’t Care,’ Holgerson’s Family Says
Taylor Smith posted for photos with her sister on Instagram at the Clark County fair the weekend after the incident and has been active on social media in the days after the incident, but has not posted about what happened. Holgerson’s family told The Sun that despite the video going viral worldwide, sparking outrage against her, Smith is acting “as if nothing happened” and is not showing any remorse. They say she also went to a pool party in the days after the incident.
“Jordan can hardly walk and is in so much pain – she can’t do any of those things. Taylor hasn’t been to visit Jordan to see if she is OK,” a family source told The Sun. “She clearly doesn’t care. She messaged Jordan to say sorry but nobody thinks it was a sincere apology. I don’t think Jordan knows yet that Taylor has been going out partying but all of her family are outraged.”
Holgerson’s sister, Kaytlin, said she reached out to Smith on social media, looking for an apology. “She pretty much said that she was sorry for doing it and she wouldn’t have done it if she knew the outcome of it and that she knows it was an absurd thing to do,” Kaytlin told KOIN-TV.
3. Smith, Who Attended Vashon Island High School, Lives With Her Grandmother & Is Unemployed, Sources Told the Daily Mail
Taylor Celon Smith lives in Renton, Washington, according to her Facebook page. She is originally from Cottage Grove, Oregon, her Facebook page says. Smith says on Facebook that she went to Lincoln Middle School in Pullman, Washington, before attending Philomath High School in Oregon and then Vashon Island High school in Washington state. She say she has worked at Dutch Bros Coffee.
Sources told The Daily Mail that Smith left high school, is unemployed and lives with her grandmother. Her Instagram profile shows that she has two sisters.
Its not clear how long Smith has known Holgerson or how close they were prior to the incident. Other details about how they know each other have not been revealed.
On Instagram on August 14, Smith wrote, ” i DIDNT in no way mean to hurt her she was a friend.. and i love her very much.. but so many threats and hate from people who dont even know me.”
4. Smith Faces Up to 364 Days in Jail & a Fine if Convicted of the Gross Misdemeanor Charge
Ashley Mahree, who filmed the incident, wrote in the YouTube caption, “This looks to be almost criminal. This could have easily taken a life, and I think this girl needs to be held accountable in some way.”
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office told the Longview Daily News that they contacted Taylor Smith and she was cooperating with the investigation. The Major Crimes Unit completed its investigation on August 14 and forwarded the case to prosecutors for possible charges, The Columbian reported.
Smith was then charged with reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000. She is currently free on supervised release and is barred from leaving the area without permission and from contacting Holgerson.
“I love that girl. I never intended to hurt her ever, nor would I intend to hurt anyone. I’m really sorry it turned out that way. I just pray that she heals and gets better,” Smith told ABC News.
“I don’t really get why someone would do that,” Jordan Holgerson told KGW-TV. “Like, you have to have some sense in your head.”
Kaytlin Holgerson told KGW that she sent Smith an Instagram message about the incident and told her, “I hope you learned a very valuable lesson to think things through.” Kaytlin said the reply included in part, “I have. I’m so sorry for you and your family. I love Jordan to pieces.” Kaytlin told the news station, “She probably has a lot of people that have messaged her and have said rude things. So I wanted to be civil and I hope she can understand she was wrong.”
Kristie Morgan, Holgerson’s aunt, wrote on Facebook, ” The police have the girls info. … so I’m sure she is looking at charges. At least I hope she is! … I’m sure she will get assault or something. The push is so hard, idk what she was thinking but it makes me furious everytime I watch the video. Hearing her scream and how hard she hits the water. I just can’t imagine how terrified my niece was! She’s lucky to be alive!”
Morgan added, “The police are investigating it. She is 18 and has no job or insurance. I do believe she is looking at some serious charges.”
5. Holgerson’s Family Says There Should Be Some Consequences for Smith, Saying She ‘Won’t Learn Her Lesson’ if She Thinks ‘It Will Be Fine’
Jordan Holgerson said at a press conference in the days after the incident that she does not want “revenge” against Taylor Smith, but Holgerson’s family has said there should be consequences for Smith’s actions. Her sister, Kaytlin told KOIN-TV, “I think the girl that pushed her should have some sort of consequence because you won’t learn your lesson if you think you can could do that again and think it will be fine.”
Kaytlin told KGW-TV, “If somebody does something that has a major impact like this and doesn’t get punished, they’ll think it is OK.”
Kristie Morgan, Holgerson’s aunt, told The Daily Mail, “Jordan is truly the sweetest girl in the world. It doesn’t matter what someone does to her she always has someone’s best interest at heart. She doesn’t wish to seek revenge on her friend. But in my opinion her friend needs to learn a lesson. She could have killed her and it wouldn’t be a question at all if she was in trouble for her actions. She would be in jail right now. But that is how Jordan feels.”
Holgerson’s mother, Genelle, told The Longview Daily Newsthat she thinks Smith was impatient or upset that Jordan didn’t jump off the bridge on her own. “I’m very upset with her. She is an adult, and I’m sure she should have known better. She could have killed my daughter,” she told the newspaper.
Genelle told KATU-TV, “My daughter’s gonna have a long recovery and I think she should just turn herself in – realize what she did wrong. This is not okay. She could have killed my daughter.”