May 8, 1942
Buffalo, New York
A photographer captures Mary Miller (35) as falls to her death
The photographer was Russell Sorgi, a journalist returning to the Buffalo Courier Express. Sorgi has taken a slightly different route from his normal routine when he was passed by police cars. Being a journalist, he followed them, suspecting a story.
Sorgi noticed a woman atop a ledge on the eighth floor and prepared his camera. He later recalled “I snatched my camera from the car and took two quick shots as [the woman] seemed to hesitate… As quickly as possible I shoved the exposed film into the case and reached for a fresh holder. I no sooner had pulled the slide out and got set for another shot than she waved to the crowd below and pushed herself into space. Screams and shouts burst from the horrified onlookers as her body plummeted toward the street. I took a firm grip on myself, waited until the woman passed the second or third story, and then shot.”
Miller had gained access to the ledge by locking herself in the women’s bathroom (rooms were not equipped with individual restrooms) and climbing out to the ledge. She left no suicide note and her sister was shocked at Miller’s suicide, stating she knew of no reason for her to kill herself. The reason why Miller jumped, and why she waved to the crowd shortly before she jumped, remains a mystery.