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mike o'callaghan-pat tillman
memorial bridge

a.k.a.: hoover dam bypass bridge, arizona/nevada
updated: 06.30.16
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06.28.16: bridge closed by woman's threat to jump.
06.28.16, abc15.com, LAS VEGAS - A woman's threat to jump closed the Hoover Dam bypass bridge for nearly five hours Tuesday, creating a miles-long backup on a key route between Las Vegas and Phoenix.
A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper was seriously injured directing turn-around traffic before the woman surrendered to crisis counselors a little before 11 a.m., officials said.
The woman's identity wasn't made public. She was getting a 72-hour mental health evaluation, Las Vegas police Officer Laura Meltzer said.
The trooper was hospitalized with head injuries after he was struck by a mid-sized tour bus that was backing up to turn around on the winding road to Hoover Dam from U.S. 93 in Nevada, Trooper Jason Buratczuk said.
The injured trooper's name wasn't immediately made public. His highway patrol motorcycle was damaged.
The tour bus driver was questioned, but it wasn't immediately clear if any citations were issued, Buratczuk said.
The winding road to the dam where the injury occurred formerly carried U.S. Highway 93 traffic across the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona.
After the bridge opened in 2010, the road to the dam and its visitor center became Nevada State Highway 172. The former U.S. 93 route to the dam from the Arizona side was abandoned.
With no alternate route on the 75-mile drive from Kingman, Arizona, to the Nevada state line, northbound motorists met a traffic jam about 4 miles southeast of the dam, said Brad Larsen, owner of Rosie's Den diner and fuel stop. His business, in White Hills, Arizona, is about 28 miles south of the dam.
"My place was packed," Larsen told The Associated Press. "The people waited for an hour, then they remembered Rosie's for breakfast."
The closure of the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge road and pedestrian walkway began after the woman was seen on the bridge about 6 a.m., police and the highway patrol said. Officials quickly issued an advisory for motorists to use alternate routes.
Suicide prevention was discussed when the bridge was being built, and a sidewalk was added to allay fears that sightseers would create a traffic hazard stopping vehicles on the bridge. A five-foot railing was added, but the bridge opened without hotline signs or telephones.
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04.15.14: Man jumps to death from Hoover Dam bypass bridge.
04.15.14, reviewjournal.com, Man dies in jump from Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, By ANNALISE PORTER
A man jumped to his death from the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge bridge Tuesday afternoon, officials say.
He jumped just after 3 p.m., Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Rose Davis said.
Las Vegas police and Hoover Dam police are working to recover the body.
The man’s identity will be released by the Clark County coroner’s office. The investigation is ongoing.
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01.10.14: Police investigate report of jumper at Hoover Dam bypass bridge.
01.10.14, reviewjournal.com, By TOM RAGAN • LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Las Vegas police are searching for a missing woman who may have jumped off the Hoover Dam bypass bridge on Friday afternoon.
Lt. John Loretto said Hoover Dam Police received a report that a woman jumped off the bypass bridge about 6:15 p.m.
“Nobody saw her jump, but she’s no longer around,” said Loretto, who added the woman left her purse in the cab she apparently took to the bypass. “But everybody believes she jumped.”
Two Metro patrol units were immediately dispatched to the scene south of Boulder City to investigate the incident, Loretto said.
The woman is believed to be in her 40s and was first reported missing by the Tempe Police Department in Arizona earlier in the week.
Hoover Dam Police refused to comment.
The bypass bridge is a 900-foot vertical drop. It spans the Black Canyon and is located 1,500 feet south of the Hoover Dam.

01.16.14, reviewjournal.com, Family of Hoover Dam bridge jumper wants higher guardrail
By TOM RAGAN, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
The family of a Phoenix woman who jumped to her death from the Hoover Dam bypass bridge said it would like to see higher guardrails and stronger security measures to deter suicides.
“We are in support of providing stronger safety measures at the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge in the hope that they will deter future tragic occurrences,” reads a statement issued Thursday by the family of Heather Price Papayoti.
Papayoti left a Jan. 10 behavioral counseling meeting in Tempe, Ariz., and took a cab more than 280 miles to the Nevada border, where she managed to crawl over the 5-foot-tall railing and jump 900 feet into the Colorado River below just before the sun set.
She was the seventh person to commit suicide at the bridge since it opened in October 2010.
“We are mourning the loss of our beautiful Heather, wife, daughter, sister (in law), aunt and friend,” reads the statement, which was issued by Maria Papayoti, Heather’s sister-in-law.
“We were blessed with her laughter and light for all the years we shared with her. Sadly the darkness of depression and anxiety consumed her in recent months and despite treatment, she was unable to conquer it.”
Whether the family’s wish becomes a reality largely depends on whether the Nevada Department of Transportation feels it’s necessary and can develop a plan and find the money, federal highway officials in Washington, D.C., said Thursday.
•HOW IT HAPPENED
Francesca Bosco, a Boulder City resident, was on the bridge just before Papayoti leaped to her death. She captured some of the final moments of Papayoti’s life while taking sunset pictures between 4:50 and 5 p.m.
The photo shows a woman with long wavy hair and dressed in black peering over the railing with her arms folded. The woman was later identified as Papayoti.
An Arizona cab parked in a no-parking zone on the bridge can be seen in the background, the cab possibly backing up. The cab’s presence surprised Bosco.
By the time Bosco walked to the other end of the bridge, Papayoti had disappeared, she recounted. The cabdriver got out of his cab and started looking for Papayoti. Bosco and a South African couple joined the search.
The woman had left a purse and a jacket inside the cab, and “Just like that she was gone,” said Bosco a few days after the suicide.
“We had a feeling she jumped because there is nowhere else she could have gone so fast. I feel so bad. I wish there was something I could have done, but there’s nothing I could do by then.”
Metro police were dispatched to the scene at 6:15 p.m. Her body was discovered in the Colorado River before midnight.
•IDEAS TO BOOST SAFETY
Ways to discourage suicides on the bridge were discussed even before it opened, according to Mary Martini, district engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
One solution was to install nets to catch the jumpers, but that was rejected amid fears it would only lure “daredevils” who would try to test its strength, she said.
Another idea was to install 6- to 8-foot transparent Plexiglas shields, but that would defeat the purpose of the pedestrian walkway, which gives tourists a view of Hoover Dam upriver and the Colorado River below, she said.
Over time, authorities theorized, the Plexiglas would become “opaque” and a likely a magnet for vandals who’d want to spray-paint it, she said.
And both measures would cost “millions of dollars,” Martini said, adding that the improvements would also have to be OK’d by the Federal Highway Administration.
A spokesman for the federal agency said if the Nevada Department of Transportation wants to make changes to the bridge, including the construction of higher guardrails, then it needs to submit a plan.
“We’re not in charge of maintaining the bridge,” said Doug Hecox, a spokesman with the agency, in a telephone interview. “That’s the state’s job.”
Martini, in the defense of the state, said the guardrail, even though it seems short, is actually taller than standard guardrails on many state bridges. She said the railing was never intended to prevent somebody from committing suicide.
“It’s to prevent people from falling over,” Martini said. “Can you crawl over it? Yes. But if we made the guardrails on the bridge any higher, it would have prevented people from being able to see the dam.”
The sidewalk and guardrails weren’t even part of the bridge’s original design, she said. But then state engineers thought it better to include them because they were afraid motorists would stop their cars in the middle of the bridge to catch the great view, disrupting traffic.
To get to the sidewalk, Payaroti had to crawl over a concrete wall that was higher than the railing itself — at 5 feet 6 inches.
The bypass is a “bridge of national significance” because of its proximity to the Hoover Dam. As such, Martini said, there’s always going to be “a certain amount of attraction to the place.”
“I don’t think we could engineer enough ways to prevent somebody from committing suicide off the bridge,” she said. “If somebody is determined to do it, then they are going to do it.”
•NO AGENCY PATROLS BRIDGE
Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the Hoover Dam Police, agrees. The police patrol the dam and operate under the auspices of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, she said. The bridge is not in their jurisdiction.
“Nobody patrols the bridge,” she said, with the exception of occasional highway patrol officers passing through or the Metropolitan Police Department in cases of crimes or suicides.
The bridge has no telephones such as those at the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area for people who are despondent and need help. There are no signs telling suicide jumpers to think twice. There are no phone numbers for them to call if they need help.
“It’s out in the middle of nowhere, and nobody seems to care,” said Bosco, who can’t help but think that the dam’s police officers could have responded more quickly to her calls for help.
When she first informed them of a possible jumper, running to the parking lot below, she said none moved quickly on the information, and that one of the officers didn’t even get out of his vehicle.
“It was my 14-year-old son who ran all the way up the stairs to see if he could see where the poor woman had fallen,” she said.
“We were hoping she might have just been badly injured on the rocks or something.”
When Bosco told the dam police officers that she had photographs, officers told her to email the pictures to them so that they could investigate, but then quickly asked her to delete the image of Papayoti.
“It’s as though they didn’t want to acknowledge that it happened or could happen,” Bosco said.
Davis said the Hoover Dam police officers are “professional and acted accordingly,” and that they would never make such a request for somebody to delete a photograph.
Francesca Bosco took this photo of the suicide victim Jan. 10. “If only I had known she was going to do this, I would have definitely tried to have helped her,” said a tearful Bosco, who captured an image of the woman in some of the final moments of her life.
(Photo Francesca Bosco)
 
01.18.14, casino.org, Suicide on Hoover Dam Bridge Shines Light on Las Vegas’ Dirty Secret
By Kevin Horridge
Beyond the endless glare of the bright neon lights and the sounds of slot machines, cocktail glasses and sexy encounters, lies a much, much darker and grimmer reality in Sin City: a seldom-reported fact – and one that many hotels go out of their way to keep out of the media – is the actual number of suicides committed in Las Vegas, sometimes following a final weekend of debauchery and with as many tragic motivations as life itself has to offer. These suicides are not always related to anything that happened in Las Vegas, mind you; but the City of Neon seems to represent to many people a place to see life off, for whatever reasons.
In fact, several studies have found that Las Vegas is the #1 destination of choice for people to kill themselves in the U.S
•Hotels Do What They Can
Obviously, there’s no real way for hotels to stem this steady stream of lives lost, as generally the deed is done from inside a hotel room, with as many methods used as the reasons themselves for the suicides. The one thing hotels can and almost always do is make it extremely difficult to fling oneself from a hotel room window, however; either making them difficult or impossible to open; or making those openings so narrow that all but the slightest among us could never fit through the limited space.
But that doesn’t mean tourists on a mission to self-destruct can’t throw themselves over somewhere else, and the story of one such woman from Phoenix now has her family and others calling out for higher barriers and stricter security at the most obvious of these non-Strip locations: the world-famous Hoover Dam, about 35 miles off the Las Vegas Strip, which offers an unsurvivable drop into rushing water below for anyone who is intent on ending their own life.
“We are in support of providing stronger safety measures at the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge [at Hoover Dam] in the hope that they will deter future tragic occurrences,” said the family of Heather Price Papayoti, the victim in this latest case. It’s certainly not the first self-inflicted death at the Hoover Dam; in fact, Papayoti is the seventh person to jump to her death into the Colorado River 900 feet below from the bridge since it opened in October 2010.
•Woman Plunges to Her Death
It was just last week, on January 10, that Papayoti took a cab ride more than 280 miles straight from a Tempe, Arizona behavioral counseling meeting, telling the driver to take her to the Hoover Dam, where she was somehow able to quickly crawl over a 5-foot barrier railing and jump, just moments before sunset.
Her family’s issued media statement reflects the despair that they were clearly aware Papayoti – who was married with a daughter – had been fighting recently.
“We are mourning the loss of our beautiful Heather, wife, daughter, sister (in law), aunt and friend. We were blessed with her laughter and light for all the years we shared with her. Sadly the darkness of depression and anxiety consumed her in recent months, and despite treatment, she was unable to conquer it.”
It will now be up to the Nevada Department of Transportation to further explore possible improved barriers and security measures, as well as come up with a plan and the money to fund it, which would come most likely from federal highway programs.
These concepts are not actually new; in fact, ways to discourage suicides were under discussion even before it was opened, according to district engineer for the Nevada Department of Transportation Mary Martini.
Among the possible solutions initially considered were safety nets and 6 – 8 foot Plexiglass shields, said Martini; but both were dismissed as either being too tempting for “jackass” type daredevils, or too obscuring of the magnificent view of the river for which the pedestrian walkway was being built. Developers were concerned the plexiglass would grow dull and also be a magnet for graffiti artists. On top of all that, the costs would be in the many millions, said Martini, who also noted that the Federal Highway Administration would have to approve anything along these lines.
Martini says the current five-foot rail was only designed to prevent people from falling, not to prevent determined jumpers from offing themselves. And in order to jump, people like Papayoti must crawl over a 5-foot 6-inch concrete wall to even access that railguard, Martini added.
“Can you crawl over it? Yes. But if we made the guard rails on the bridge any higher, it would have prevented people from being able to see the dam.
“I don’t think we could engineer enough ways to prevent somebody from committing suicide off the bridge,” she said. “If somebody is determined to do it, then they are going to do it.”
Additional requests for improved security patrols and a suicide prevention line – much like the ones at other major U.S. bridges – are also being called for by Papayoti’s family. But no matter what happens down the line, for one despondent woman, she is now just another sad statistic in a city that deals with suicide as simply another side-effect of being larger than life itself.
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05.11.13: Man jumps to death from Hoover Dam bypass bridge.
05.12.13, reviewjournal.com, By COLTON LOCHHEAD, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
A man jumped to his death off the Hoover Dam bypass bridge early Saturday morning in what is being called an apparent suicide.
Hoover Dam police were called to the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday after reports came in of a possible suicide attempt.
Officers made contact with the man, and attempted to coax him off the side of the bridge. According to Las Vegas police, who received reports of the incident about 5:20 a.m. Saturday, a Hoover Dam officer was within 15 feet of the man, attempting to create a dialogue.
But the man never responded to police, and eventually jumped, falling 900 feet to his death, Las Vegas police said.
Witnesses said that the man stopped his motorcycle on the bridge, jumped the wall onto the walkway, and then climbed over the walkway’s railing. The Clark County coroner’s office will determine the man’s cause and manner of death and identify him pending notification of next of kin.
The 1,900-foot-long bridge, which opened in October 2010, crosses Black Canyon 900 feet above the Colorado River about a quarter of a mile downstream from Hoover Dam, which separates Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.
A walkway, which is open day and night, is separated from bridge traffic by a concrete barrier. The concrete wall along the pedestrian walkway sits at 4 feet, 6 inches. On the south side of the highway there is no walkway, but the wall is roughly a foot shorter.
The northbound side of the bridge was shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol while Las Vegas and Hoover Dam police investigated the incident, trooper Jeremie Elliott said.
Even in its short existence, the bridge has had a history of troubled incidents.
During its first year, there were no reported suicides from the span. In 2012, four people climbed over the railing and jumped into the Colorado River.
On July 12, 2012, Jacob Gerard Foreman, 39, fell from the bypass bridge after he walked onto the bridge’s walkway, climbed over the rail and hung from it.
Officers were unable to persuade Foreman to leave the railing. He fell off the bridge about two hours after the incident began. Foreman’s death was ruled a suicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.
Engineers from Nevada, Arizona and the Federal Highway Administration had discussed the potential for suicides during the design phase of the $240 million bridge but decided against any structures that could deter jumpers.
Officials with the Bureau of Reclamation and Nevada Department of Transportation could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.
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07.27.12: Suicides prompt talk of changes at Hoover Dam bypass bridge.
07.27.12, lvrj.com, Four suicides from the Hoover Dam bypass bridge have transportation officials pondering a deadly question they considered years ago while designing the 900-foot tall span.
If engineers throw up a net or erect a fence on the Hoover Dam bypass bridge, will it keep distressed visitors from committing suicide? Or will it simply detract from the aesthetics of the longest concrete-arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere?
The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge created a buzz in engineering circles worldwide and was named a civil engineering wonder comparable to Hoover Dam. It also rivals the dam when it comes to tourist attractions.
Before the 2010 opening of the bypass bridge, the highest landmarks in Southern Nevada were casinos where visitors have difficulty accessing rooftops or face security officers and tall fences that deter guests from climbing to dangerous levels.
During its first year, there were no reported suicides from the span. This year, four people have scaled the 4-foot-6-inch concrete-and-metal railing and leapt into the Colorado River. Two suicides have occurred within the past two weeks.
Lanny Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, told USA Today earlier this year that places such as Niagara Falls, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building are called "suicide landmarks" because of the frequency of jumpers.
"There are sites around the world that, primarily because of media publicity, become known as where someone goes to die by suicide," Berman told the newspaper. "The magical thinking involved in their mind is that 'I will get all of this attention by engaging in a public suicide.'?"
Is it possible the bypass bridge could join the nation's list of macabre monuments? Dr. Richard Seiden, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, believes it has potential.
"They (landmarks) develop a reputation of their own. You can be certain it will get worse before it gets better," Seiden said. "That's what's going to happen unless steps are taken."
Nevada Department of Transportation representatives said they plan to discuss potential preventative measures on the bypass bridge, which could result in costly solutions such as netting or fencing or less expensive options such as suicide hotline phones.
"We are constantly monitoring the situation," said Damon Hodge, spokesman for the department. "Whatever we propose, the Federal Highway Administration would have to approve it."
Seiden suggested 8-foot concrete columns placed closely together so tourists could still capture the unique view of Hoover Dam, but jumpers wouldn't be able to squeeze through the spaces.
Three dozen people have jumped from the Empire State building since it was built in 1931. Higher fencing was placed around the observatory deck in 1947 after a series of suicides.
A similar battle over preventive measures has brewed for decades in San Francisco, where the Golden Gate Bridge has long been the world's most popular place to commit suicide. In its 75 years of existence, 1,558 people have hurled themselves over the railing, the majority plunging nearly 700 feet to their death.
In 2008, San Francisco officials agreed to install a safety net below the 4-foot railing, but the cost to do so on the 9,000-foot span is said to hover around $45 million.
The price tag probably would be less on the 1,900-foot bypass bridge that links Nevada and Arizona.
As Northern California transportation agencies await funding for installation of the Golden Gate bridge netting, suicide hotline phones have been installed.
The signs along the Golden Gate read: "Crisis Counseling. There Is Hope. Make the Call. The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic."
Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Rose Davis said her agency recently received funding from a Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act grant to buy and install a dozen call boxes.
Psychiatrists who specialize in suicides have performed studies that show netting or fencing can help prevent deaths because many times the jumpers are acting impulsively.
Permits are needed to buy a gun, and prescriptions are necessary for pills; bridges and tall structures are readily available.
Government officials have argued that deterrents are ineffective because a suicidal person will find an alternative method of killing themselves. Seiden, a behavioral scientist, doesn't buy it and conducted a study that supported his opinion.
His study showed that of 500 potential jumpers pulled from the Golden Gate Bridge railing, 94 percent are either still living or died from natural causes nearly three decades later. Of the 30 who jumped into the San Francisco Bay and survived the plunge, only three later took their own lives.
Kevin Hines was 19 years old and suffering from a bipolar disorder when he decided to end his pain by leaping over the railing of the Golden Gate in 2000.
"When my hands left that rail - and my legs curled over - as soon as I left the bridge, I thought, 'I don't want to die,'?" Hines told Time Magazine in 2006. "It's a four-second fall, and in those four seconds I said, 'God please help me.'?"
Hines survived the fall and now helps others in distress and is a frequent guest at speaking engagements related to depression.
During the course of his study, Seiden learned that most potential jumpers have a fantasy about how they want to die. If their efforts to kill themselves in a particular manner are thwarted, they are unlikely to change paths and immediately go find another way to commit suicide.
Most jumpers leap off the bay side of the Golden Gate Bridge where pedestrians are permitted; the pathway on the ocean side is designated for bicyclists. Seiden said he spoke with one man who wanted to jump from the ocean side but backed out of his plan.
"When I asked him why, he said, 'I didn't want to cross the bridge and get hit by a car,'?" Seiden said. "He had a fantasy in mind, and it takes a lot to switch it."
Although he too believes netting or fencing would stop jumpers, not all of those in distress are deterred by safeguards. Earlier this year, a man scaled a 30-foot railing and jumped over Niagara Falls.
Officials at the Nevada Department of Transportation are expected to discuss the matter during their August or September meeting.
(this bridge is less than a hour from las vegas. it's was designed with a pedestrian walkway and a railing that's less than five feet high. suicide jumpers were expected from this new launching platform. at some point, someone said, "hey, i have an idea. being as this bridge will likely be used for suicide, we should install a taller railing that curves inward at the top, instead of this short one that will be a snap to hop over." to which someone else said, "sure, but anyone that intends on committing  suicide is going to do it anyway, so let's make it easier for them", and so they did.)

 hoover bypass bridge
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04.07.12: Tragedy at new Hoover Dam bypass bridge: First suicide reported.
04.10.12, latimes.com, LAS VEGAS -- In what authorities are calling the first confirmed suicide at the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge, a 60-year-old San Jose woman leaped to her death from the 900-foot-high span Saturday.
Federal police had attempted to convince her to step back from a precipice along the pedestrian walkway, but to no avail.
The victim was identified as Patricia Oakley of San Jose, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Rose Davis said Tuesday. Oakley’s body was found downstream Sunday by Colorado River kayakers.
Authorities said they hoped the grim development would not color the reputation of the span, with two concrete arches that stretch 1,060 feet across Black Canyon, just downstream from Hoover Dam.
“Hoover Dam sees almost a million people a year and most of them enjoy the remarkable views from that walkway,” said Davis. “This is a terrible tragedy but I’d like to echo the words of a colleague who said that somebody who decides to kill themselves is going to find a way to do it.”
Completed in late 2010 at a cost of $240 million, the graceful span known by many as the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, links Nevada and Arizona along U.S. Highway 93.
The bridge quickly became a tourist draw for the Las Vegas area, popular as the longest bridge of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and the second-tallest bridge in the United States after the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, federal transportation officials say.
The bridge is named after former Nevada Gov. Mike O’Callaghan and Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.
Officers spent nearly 30 minutes trying to calm Oakley before she jumped to her death Saturday night. Police had been alerted that she was on the pedestrian walkway, behaving erratically.
Although officials had discussed the possibility of erecting a suicide barrier during construction of the span, they eventually decided that not even such precautions would prevent those intent on committing suicide.
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 hoover bypass bridge
The 1,900-foot-long Hoover Dam bypass bridge, which opened in October 2010, crosses Black Canyon 900 feet above the Colorado River about a quarter of a mile downstream from Hoover Dam, which separates Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.
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video
bridge construction time lapse.


man commits suicide off the hoover dam.
 

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