Aggies React as Student Recovers From Bridge Fall

By: Meredith Stancik Email
By: Meredith Stancik Email

A Texas A&M freshman remains at St. Joseph Regional Health Center, listed in fair condition after falling 30 feet off the Brazos River bridge on Highway 21.

Betsy Helbing was with a group of friends just after midnight Thursday when she fell to the banks below. Helbing suffered major spine and leg injuries and required surgery, but according to a website set up through the Caring Bridge online service, that surgery went nicely.

Helbing was involved in what is becoming a dangerous fad within the Texas A&M community: students experiencing a so-called rush while lying underneath the train tracks on the Brazos River bridge on Highway 21.

This is the second time the thrill has ended tragically. Dozens of students have tried the daring act before.

"The rush and it's exciting," Texas A&M Student Charles Roitsch explained about the act. "It's just kind of like the unknown, like, 'let's go try this out.'"

Roitsch is one of the many who have been to the Brazos River bridge.

"It was about my freshman year when people starting talking about it," Roitsch said. "All my friends told me about it. They were like, 'you should come along.'"

He did. However, Roitsch says he would never do it again.

"I would not recommend it," Roitsch said. "It was unsafe."

Like Roitsch, Helbing was with a group of friends when she fell 30 feet Thursday to the banks below.

"This particular site has had a number of tragedies as far as injuries," Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk said. "The risk is not worth that type of outcome."

However, students haven't stopped yearning for the excitement. This latest incident happened just a year after another Texas A&M student fell.

"I can't believe it happened twice because after the first time, you would think people would stop going," Texas A&M Student Jim Koss said.

The Texas A&M campus is showing their support for the Aggie freshman. A Facebook site has been set up where students and others are praying for Betsy in hopes that she will recover and others will realize the thrill is not worth the risk.

"It's just not smart and completely irresponsible and I won't do it again," Roitsch said.

Texas A&M University is meeting with the students involved and reviewing the circumstances. Following the review process, the university will decide how to move forward.

Texas A&M officials say the incident was not a university sanctioned function or activity.

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