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call to action: the people need to put an end to jumpers.
2009 jump eventsupdated: 07.17.12
if you have any factual news, updates, or additions,
please bring it to our attention.
(our comments follow)
12.20.09: save, female
thank you, jumpnews
12.20.09, anon, Wimauma, Florida, (12.20.09, 5:30pm, hit water), I was driving South bound over the skyway and right on the hump there was a dark blue toyota tundra with 2 state troopers behind it. There didn't appear to be anyone in the truck. The State Troopers had all the doors open and appeared to be searching the truck.
any more info is welcome.
tbnweekly.com, Cop credited with saving life, PINELLAS PARK A Pinellas
Park police officer was credited with saving the life of a woman who attempted
to jump off the Skyway Bridge.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that officer Joseph S. Puglia, a 10-year police veteran, was driving southbound across the bridge between Pinellas and Manatee counties on Dec. 20 at about 5 p.m. when he observed a 55-year-old woman standing near the ledge.
The FHP said Puglia, who also is a field training officer, pulled over and made contact with the would-be jumper as the FHP arrived on the scene.
Authorities said Puglia befriended the woman and she was pulled to safety and transported to a local hospital for observation. (thanks to Nichole P.)
|open request to this person: care to tell your story?|
12.18.09: save, female
12.18.09, Mark, Tampa, FL., (12.18.09, 6:00am), Came across the southbound
Skyway this AM and there was a black Ford Mustang and a dark colored Chevy truck
with the flashers on. There was what looked like a male and a female standing
next to the railing at the apex of the bridge facing each other talking. I
called *FHP to report it and the officer that answered said they had received a
call already but to give her any additional info. A coworker that came by about
45 minutes after me said the pickup was gone but the Mustang was still there as
well as the police. Hopefully they got there in time. This is only my 3rd year
working south of the Skyway and every morning each December as I round the curve
at the bottom of the bridge I expect to see emergency lights at the top.
12.18.09, ANON, Clearwater, (12.18.09, 7:00am), Drove over Skyway this morning black car parked 2 police in front and in back of the car
any more info is welcome.
tampabay.com, Skyway driver saves woman from suicide attempt
By Kim Wilmath, Times Staff Writer, Posted: Dec 18, 2009 11:21 AM
TAMPA A driver on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge saved a woman who seemed ready to leap from the span early Friday morning, authorities said.
At about 5:55 a.m., a 51-year-old woman parked her 2004 Ford Mustang on the bridge's outside shoulder, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. She got out of her car and started leaning over the concrete barrier wall when another driver, Guelmis Yanes, saw her and pulled over.
Troopers said Yanes was able to stop the woman from jumping until FHP Capt. Robert Ifft arrived.
The woman was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital under the Florida Baker Act. (comments follow the article.)
12.19.09, tampabay.com, Rescuer pulls would-be Skyway jumper back from the edge
By Alexandra Zayas, Times Staff Writer, In Print: Saturday, December 19, 2009
TAMPA Because of the rain, Guelmis Yanes left for work 15 minutes early Friday. A construction job waited for him in Sarasota, which put the 27-year-old on the Sunshine Skyway before sunrise, listening to Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Something caught his eye: A red Mustang, empty, hazard lights flashing. A lone woman, walking up the slant of the bridge.
The car must have broken down, Yanes thought. The woman looked about the same age as his mother. Maybe she needed a ride. He passed her and stopped, watching her silhouette in his rear-view mirror. He figured she was walking toward the bridge phone. Then, she was gone.
Had she jumped?
He thought about the day in October when he saw a burning car on the bridge. It had turned out to be a murder-suicide. Just this week, he saw troopers gather after a 30-year-old woman plunged to her death.
Yanes, who recounted these details in an interview Friday evening with the Times, left his car and felt the rain whip his face. He had driven this bridge so many times but had never stepped on it. He thought the wind might blow him away.
Then, he saw the woman's hands hooked over the edge of the bridge's retaining wall. Then, her legs, swinging over toward him. She had pulled herself back up.
She was 51 and not much taller than 5 feet. Her hair was short and blonde, and she smelled of cigarette smoke.
"Please," Yanes yelled as he ran up to her, "don't jump."
The woman looked exhausted.
"I've got to do it," he remembers her saying. "I've got to do it."
"No," he told her, "you don't. This is not the answer to your problems."
She responded, "You don't know my problems."
She had no job, no prospects. She said, "I cannot live on $275 a week." He told her his father, a welder, was out of work, too. He asked if he could take her to a coffee shop, right then, and talk. He told her he didn't mind getting to work late, and that he'd pay.
He remembers what she told him. "No no, please," she said. "I've got to do this."
She had crouched down with her back to the wall of the bridge, so Yanes thought she had changed her mind. He took out his cell phone and called 911. The operator couldn't hear him, so he shouted. He lost sight of the woman for a second, and when he looked for her, she was gone.
Then, he saw the hands again. He ran. He peered over the edge, and there she was, struggling to climb back up. He reached over with his right hand and grabbed the wall with his left.
There they stood again. The woman dripped with sweat. He didn't know what to say. Then, something popped into his head:
"Do you believe in God?"
The woman said yes.
"Do you believe he wants you to do this when he gave you the opportunity to live?"
She looked down, and asked if he thought she would go to hell. He asked, "Do you have any children?" Yes. "Grandchildren?" Yes. "Do you really think that this is fair to them?"
She stayed quiet. He tried to cry, thinking that might help. "I have a mother," he told her. "I have a father. I have a grandmother. I don't know what I would do if they did this."
The woman didn't say anything. She took a big breath.
"Okay," he told her, "I'm going to call somebody to come and help us."
His own phone hadn't worked, so he walked to the bridge phone, which meant turning his back on her. He held that phone up to one ear and his cell up to another, trying to get through.
A third time, she climbed over the wall.
He screamed, "Don't jump!"
This time, she looked more tired as she clung to the wall's edge. "Help," she pleaded. "Help." He reached over again, one arm on her pants, one arm on the wall, fighting the wind. He looked at the dark water and worried she might pull him down. With strength he didn't know he had, he pulled her up.
This time, he pinned her to the ground. Cars zoomed by. Yanes saw a Florida Highway Patrol trooper stop at the woman's car and look over the wall. He was at least a football field away.
The patrolman didn't seem to notice them at first.
In the minutes that followed, the woman would tell Yanes he was ruining everything. She would scratch him and threaten to take him down. He would not let go as he forced her down the bridge toward the trooper, all of her weight in his arms. A hospital would keep her for her own protection.
All day, he would think about her.
It began with one step, one command.
"Come on," Yanes told her, "get up." (comments follow article with picture of mr. yanes.)
|12.21.09, Scott W., My wife tried on 12/18/2009. If your going to drive to the skyway, get out of your car and jump off, she was saved By Guelmis Yanes. Thank you so much for not giveing jump. She has been in 5 Hospitals since July 13 2009. The doctors release her with now aftercare plan and I don't knpw what to do with her. She is very sick, the night before we were out with a friend and she seem happy and fine. I was looking up the Front Page of the St pete Times on Saturday and there she was.|
|open request to this person: care to tell your story?|
12.15.09: jumper, 5:00am, female, died, body found same day
April L. Walsh, 30
thank you, jumpnews
12.15.09, Zolter, Largo, fl., (12.15.09, 5:00am), keys, wallet and note left in vehicle on top of span. Search in progress
12.15.09, joe, terra ceia, FL., just saw 3 cop cars and a fire truck with boat in the water, action on top of bridge
12.15.09, rob, riverview, fl., possible jumper two police center span, empty car and coast guard on scene
12.15.09, Kelly R., Bradenton, My husband crosses the Skyway every morning about 7:00 am. This is the info he gave me. Abandoned Honda civic (dark green) Being towed from skyway. Helicopter activity and police activity on top of bridge. Sorry, I think we has another jumper. This makes me sad for the family and friends left behind. Especially at Christmas time. Sad indeed.
12.15.09. SuziQ, St.Pete, florida, (12.15.09, 5:30am), My husband was crossing the bridge this morning about 5:30 am and he said he thinks someone jumped. Rescue and police all over northbound.
any more info is welcome.
Hillsborough Sheriff, VEHICLES - ABANDONED 1 SKYWAY BG 04:59 16:46
12.15.09, hcso.tampa.fl.us, April L. Walsh, DOB 4-24-79, [address withheld], Tampa, Suicide, December 15, 2009 at 5:02 a.m., Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating a suicide on the Skyway Bridge. This morning at approximately 5:02 a.m. HCSO was notified of a possible jumper. A 1994 Honda Accord was found on the center span of the Skyway in the north bound outside lane. Later in the morning the body of a female was discovered by the Coast Guard and the body is being transported to O'Neils Marine. The body has been positively identified as April Walsh and her next of kin has been notified in California.
tampabay.com,Woman jumps to her death from Sunshine Skyway as holidays
By Andy Boyle, Times Staff Writer, Posted: Dec 15, 2009 08:35 AM
Authorities found the body of a woman who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway early Tuesday.
Officials responded to a 5:09 a.m. report of a 1994 Honda Accord stopped atop the northbound span of the bridge. The Florida Highway Patrol found the car with the keys inside. Also in the car were a wallet, some form of identification and a note.
Search boats found the woman's body, which was taken to nearby O'Neill's Marina. Her name was not released until the family could be notified.
On Friday, authorities suspected that someone else jumped after a report of a car abandoned on the bridge. A body was found Saturday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office website. Weather conditions made the search difficult on Friday, authorities said.
The number of people who jump from the bridge increases during the holiday season, said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata. "This is like one a week now," he said. (comments follow the article, several of which show people are growing weary of 'depression' being the excuse for everything. we agree. they are also blaming bush and obama. people are funny. others rightfully point out how selfish the suicidals can be, especially this time of year. from this year forward, any semblance of holiday happiness for those that love april walsh has been ruined by her merry christmas death jump. now every year, they can put up the april suicide tree and hang all the april died lights. then in the morning, the kids can rip open their april killed herself at christmas presents.)
12.15.09, tbo.com, Skyway Bridge jumper identified
Published: December 15, 2009, Updated: 12/15/2009 05:06 pm
ST. PETERSBURG - Authorities have identified the woman who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway this morning as 30-year-old April Walsh of Tampa.
At about 5:10 a.m., authorities were alerted to a 1994 Honda Accord that had been abandoned at the top of the bridge, said Lt. Joel Granata of St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue. In it were a wallet, identification, keys and a suicide note, he said.
Later in the morning Walsh's body was discovered in the water below the bridge by the Coast Guard, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. The investigation is ongoing.
12.17.09, myfoxtampabay.com, Holiday blues hit some hard this year, 'You don't have to suffer alone', Gloria Gomez
TAMPA - The sounds of the season are here, but not every sound is upbeat.
This time of the year the suicide rate spikes. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay handles up to 60 calls from people in distress every week. David Braughton, the organization's president, said the caller is usually on the edge of an emotional cliff ready to jump.
"One of the areas that we see a huge increase in is the number of people that are having suicidal thoughts. They've gotten so depressed and so down that there looking up to see bottom, and they think tomorrow is going to more of the same," Braughton explained.
Their last call for help is usually handled by a crisis counselor like Alysha Quinn. She said many callers are in a deep financial hole they see no way out of it.Quinn knows her job is to give hope to a hopeless situation. If she's successful, the troubled caller will be a return caller."When you have a hard call one day, that you know you hear from them a couple of days later saying how much they may have helped. So that's pretty exciting when you're able to do that for somebody," Quinn added.The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says in the last four years, it has investigated 32 (at least 40) jumpers on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. In the last week alone, two people have jumped to their deaths. (3 in 9 days.)
At the Crisis Center there is a fixed camera monitoring the bridge and a hotline number those in distress can call.
Or just remember the number 2-1-1. Someone will always be there pick up the phone and hopefully your spirit.
"If you are in despairing over these holidays, you don't have to suffer alone. Call 2-1-1, and we can find you help," Braughton said.
comments about april walsh from
12.15.09, Jill W. S., Apopka, FL., Dear April, WHY? Was it way too difficult too find an answer to life's lessons? It is such a waste. So sad. I miss you. I was just getting to know you. I looked forward to learning more about you and sharing our commonalities and interests. You were so interesting and had such a wonderful sense of humor. I feel cheated. Thank you for the movie. I guess I shall share it with others in your name. I hope you are at peace and now no many of the answers to your questions. Love to you, April.
12.15.09, Shelley B., Tampa, FL., I knew April and worked with her for 4 years. We became good friends and even went out with some of my other friends a couple of times and every Christmas we exchanged gifts. She had a heart of gold and was always laughing. She made the most awesome chili....I always requested it when we had team lunches. I feel kind of out of the loop,as of May I no longer worked with her, but had her cell number and yet, I never called her...the guilt of that will be with me always...she was a good friend and I will miss her always. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family! Everytime I make her chili I will think of her... xoxo to you April.
12.16.09, vanessa, Miami, FL., My dearest April- I'm at a loss for words...just last weekend we sat on my couch and laughed together. I still can't believe this is happening and I have to say that I am a bit in denial. I look at your christmas presents under my tree and I find myself saying that I will still be able to give then to you. I knew that you were troubled I guess I just failed to realize just how deep it was. I hope that you know how much I loved you and still love you and that you were such a great person. I can't believe that its over just like that. I love you so very much and you will continue to live in my heart forever. The last text I got from you said that you love me...and its hard to accept that that will be the last time I hear from you. Rest in peace my friend..... Your munchkin, Vanessa
12.16.09, Quentin Hubbard, Largo, FL., I hope that April was not driven to suicide by what the mind benders did to her in the scientology crime syndicate. OT VIII Steve Brackett dove to his death from the Bixby Bridge in California on May 29th of this year. This sounds like another suicide victim of vicious treatment and betrayal at the hands of the scientology criminal enterprise.
12.16.09, Angelina, Tampa, FL., April was a very nice girl and will always be remembered. Her friends were her friends and if you were not that close to her, she was still a very peaceful person. No one ever knows why one would do this nor do we ever expect it. We just have to deal with it and make sure that what she has given us is not forgotten. Vanessa darling you were truly her friend and it will be tough at times, just remember her for those times on the couch, and dont spend to much time trying to figure it out. She would have not wanted that. Everything is based off of assumption now and it will drive you "Loca". Pray for her and others like her and do what you always do, make sure you are the friend you should be and help others when they seem to be in need. April will not be out of the memories to those who love her and have left a piece of her inside of all of those who surrounded her. Boy to men sang a song called "one sweet day" and that is how I will remember April and know that I will meet her "One sweet day" again
12.16.09, Trish, Port Orange, FL., I still can't believe that this has happened! It is undeniable that you are and always will be missed. Even though we lived miles apart I kept you close in my heart that's why it was hard for me to take the news that you were no longer with us. COUSIN I pray that we as a family will get through this in one peace (especially for auntie as her heart is heavy). I love you SO MUCH!!
12.16.09, Shelley B., Tampa, FL., I just found out that after being gone from our workplace..last week, she was still thinking about me, enough to ask a co-worker about me...I am overwhelmed with guilt that I didn't keep in touch with her...I have her cell phone number save in my phone, of whick it will stay as a reminder...she was so good to me and we had a lot of good times, she was such a beautiful person, inside and out. What I am now begining to piece together, and the way every one has talked about her, that this must have been a sudden decision on her part. Either she hid her pain that well or something came about that suddenly, that she felt there was no other way out or this was the only choice she had. From what I understand there was a note she left..and that right there lies all the answers as to why she felt she needed to end her life. I for one need answers, I need closure, I need to find out why my friend chose to end her life unstead of searching for help. I intend on going to the viewing and to the funeral, I need to able to say good-bye to her, I never got to tell her that I loved her (as a friend)and how much her friendship meant to me. April, I am telling you now...I love you and miss you, my friend.
12.17.09, Bill B., Bradenton, FL., Every time I read about a suicide from atop the Skyway Bridge, I think about the day in November 1999 when I was fortunate to be involved in the rescue of a man intent on ending his life, via a jump from the northbound side of the span. And his jump would be one he could (not) survive, as he was attempting it over the rocks that surround the center supports, instead of over the water. The driver, with whom he had hitchhiked, and a St. Petersburg cop, held him by his arm and in headlock, while he pleaded to be let go. I was a random passerby, heading south, and arrived just after the police got there. I stopped and jumped over the bridge's center, knowing that I had to do something - anything - that might help. I begged the jumper to please let us help him, to please let me help him and he finally agreed. Because of his size, we had to wait what seemed like hours, until more cops arrived, giving us the needed muscle to pull him over the railing and back to safety. During this time, cars continued to just pass by with not one stopping to offer their help. That, by itself, is one of the poorest testimonies of humanity I have ever witnessed. Considering the volume of traffic that crosses the span daily, I can't imagine that April's car was not passed by numerous vehicles prior to her ending her life. I didn't know April but, nonetheless, I would have stopped to see if assistance was needed, even if it was only to discover an automotive breakdown or a foolish tourist stopping to take photographs of the Tampa skyline. We live in a society stricken by fear and ambivalence. I shudder to think what might have happened had I not stopped on that November day when another fellow human being needed my help. I was scared as hell, during the rescue, and collapsed into a sobbing heap when it was over. Friends and acquaintances told me how foolish I was to do such a thing, as I, too, might have been pulled over to my own death. But I would do it again in a cold second because every life is precious. April's was no less precious. Reading the posts on this page tells me she was loved by those who cared enough to share their own sentiments about her passing. I'm saddened that April was successful because who knows what great things this young lady might have accomplished in the years ahead. April, I'm sorry for the loss your friends are feeling. Your passing will forever be emblazoned in their minds, but your life will go on in their memories. You're in God's hands now and are no longer troubled by whatever drove you to take your life. Watch over your friends - all of them. You can do much good where you are now. And I pray that you will help others find the good in their hearts, so when they are a random passersby and see someone in trouble, they will hear your voice telling them, "help me" before it too late again. Rest In Peace, child.
12.11.09: jumper, 6:45am, female, died, body found next day
Kattia Benetatos, 41
thank you, jumpnews
12.11.09, Kelly, Bradenton, (12.11.09, 7.15am), Looks like we have another jumper this morning on the Skyway. Very windy day for jumping! Boats seen racing to the scene with lights on and lots of activity on the top of the bridge with first responders. This was seen on the southbound side of the skyway by my husband about 15 minutes ago.
12.11.09, anon, riverview, fl., (12.11.09, 6:45am), possible jumper, alot of activity center span soutbound skyway
12.11.09, Tom, New Port Richey, (12.11.09, 5:00am, died), Just saw on Fox 13 someone jumped and died this morning. They didnt say what time but it must have been before 7am
12.11.09, kaitlyn, parrish, fl., (12.11.09, 7:15am), I just got into my office after my morning commute over the Skyway. Thought I would let you know there were emergency vehicles on the SB Span of the bride and police/coastguard boats in the water. I was driving NB, and didn't get a very good look at the car. Just heard on the radio it was a "medical call"...
12.11.09, anon, St Pete., (12.11.09, 7:30am), Not sure if someone actually jumped but there were 2-3 FHP and a couple counties on the hump in the southbound lanes about 735 am. One ambulance also.
12.11.09, De-, St. Petersburg, FL., (12.11.09, 6:40am, hit water), Driving Skyway bridge (south) Fire, Police were blocking right lane and looking over side-coast guard below-saw a white small SUV with no occupants parked at the top
12.11.09, JRV, St Pete, FL., (12.11.09, 7:30am, water), I was going southbound on the Skyway bridge and I saw a tan 2002-2006 mini-SUV, possibly a Honda parked. I also saw helicopters circling overhead and lots of police and rescue. There were also rescue boats in the water searching for the body. There also was an AT&T van parked 100m from where the SUV and the police were. The van could or could not have had something to do with the event.
12.11.09, MR, Palmetto FL., (12.11.09, 7-8am, body not found yet), Bubba the Love Sponge announced it on his radio show around 9:15am (we digs us some sponge.)
12.11.09, anon, bradenton, (12.11.09, 9:00am, body not found yet), Was driving over bridge at 9:30 this morning heading north and seen a gold colored suv parked at the top in the southbound lanes, there was a coast guard chopper and appeared to be 3 search boats combing the waters around the bridge.
12.11.09, Wildman, Riverview, FL., Don't see it listed but at 7:15 this morning, while driving north on the Skyway, saw emergency vehicles parked on the southbound side. Saw a white car empty on the bridge as well that they were looking at. Emergency crews were going over the median barrier looking over onto the east side of the bridge as well. When I got to the bottom of the bridge I spotted the large Coast Guard chopper headed toward the area as well as a police type boat.
12.11.09, zolter, largo, fl., (12.11.09, 6:30am, male), Coast guard called off search about 11:15am this am.
12.12.09, jimbo, st.pete, (12.11.09, 7:00am, female, died, body found), Just returned from fishing. The body of a woman was on the dock of the boat ramp. She was found under the bridge.
(this was also reported on wwba-820am. any more info is welcome.)
Hillsborough Sheriff, ASSIST OTHER AGENCY 1 SKYWAY BG 06:47 10:59
12.12.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, DECEASED PERSON 1 SKYWAY BG 14:27 22:07 7h40m
tampabay.com, Officials search Tampa Bay after reports of possible Skyway
By Emily Nipps, Times Staff Writer, Posted: Dec 11, 2009 08:34 AM
ST. PETERSBURG Authorities are searching Tampa Bay waters for a possible suicide jumper after someone reported an abandoned car atop the Skyway Bridge Friday morning.
According to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue spokesman Joel Granata, a passerby called around 6:30 a.m. and reported an unconscious person in a car on the bridge. Florida Highway Patrol and fire rescue workers responded to find an empty car with the keys, a wallet and other personal items still in the car.
A female tennis shoe was found at or near the scene, Granata said, but it's unclear whether it's connected to the possible incident.
The U.S. Coast Guard dispatched vessels and a helicopter to the scene around 8 a.m to look for a survivor or body, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Sondra-Kay Kneen, but she had no information on any findings. Granata said he received reports that weather conditions and the tide were making the search difficult, as 6-foot swells were coming over the sides of the boats. (comments follow article. thanks to Ray T. in Palm Harbor and zolter in largo)
tbo.com, Kattia Benetatos, 41, 6:30am, Witnesses saw her drive to the center span and jump off. Body was recovered the next day. Goodby letter found in home.
11.11.10, Rosa B.,
facebook, you please take my mom's info down off your website. her
name is kattia benetatos. it is extremely disrespectful and none of yours or any
one else's business of what she did. your website is sick and harmful to people
out there. and it does nothing but negatively impact the city of st. pete and
the sunshine skyway bridge along with adding some sort of sick humor to indulge
ignorant people like you to guess the next jumper. (sorry
for your loss. a simple "please"
followed by "ignorant people like you",
won't get you very far here. when someone jumps off of a very public structure
like the skyway, one might say it's everyone's business, as was demonstrated by
the media coverage of your mother's very public self elimination. she put her
last act on display for many to see and therefore, all to know. it could also be
said that she was the disrespectful one to anyone witnessing her act, as well as
all those she forcibly involved with it. as for "negatively
impact the city of st. pete", enough of that goes
on with the almost daily murder one finds there. we could of added the youtube video someone sent us of you
and her, but we didn't.) a reply:
11.12.10, Rosa B., facebook, You are the one who is making it public and not allowing any of those poor souls to rest at peace. And it IS an ignorant act, you sit behind your computers guessing the date and time of the next possible jumper. How in any way is that not extremely disrespectful? I just want to put my mom to rest and would greatly appreciate it if she were to be removed from your site. I'll even compromise with you... you want to keep her actions up, then fine, but please remove her name. She was an amazing woman who was not in the least bit suicidal and the most loving generous person. My family and I do not wish her to be remembered this way. Please take her name off your website along with mine now that I see you have exposed our "private" conversation to the internet. (seriously? your mom was not suicidal and yet she jumps off the skyway bridge? unless she was forced to jump off the bridge, she was suicidal, hence, her suicide. regardless of how you want to remember your mother, her actions that ended her life are not only public record, they are bridge history. it was reported on the tv, radio, in several newspapers, and by many public witnesses. this is the whole point of the site. unless you want your story detailed here, do not jump off that public conveyance. again, we are sorry for your loss and what your mother has put you through. we did not add her to this site, she voluntarily put herself on it. suicide is a very personal choice. as such, it should remain a personal and private situation involving one person or at least, a very select few. when people involve several public agencies, as well as dozens of witnesses and thousands of people directly affected by it, it becomes a public event. everyone gets to know forever more.)
|12.10.09: possible jumper|
thank you, jumpnews
12.11.09, Steve M., Seminole, Fl., (12.10.09, 9:30pm), I was driving north bound at about 9:30 on 12/10 when I saw an suv going south bound around the top of the hump of the bridge. They put on the emergency lights when pulling over. I immediately got a creepy feeling and looked up this website when I got home. Didn't see the color because it was dark but the tail lights looked like that of a jeep
any more info is welcome.
12.06.09: jumper, 3:34pm, male, died, body found same day
Jeremy Michael Costley
thank you, jumpnews
12.06.09, charles, tampa, fl., (12.06.09, 4:15pm, male, no hotline phones, hit water, died, body found the same day), I rescued this jumper today off the skyway bridge today while on fishing trip with friends so be the first to know LOL (you were first in and we thank you. any more to your story would be appreciated.)
12.07.09, anon, (12.06.09, 4:00pm, hit water), Black 2 door Honda older model parked at top of North bound lane on bridge. Several police cars racing to site and police already there looking over bridge. Private vessels circling below.
12.07.09, anon, St. Petersburg, Fl, (12.06.09, 4:00pm, died), We were fishng on the south side of the skyway,near the rest area. We saw a rescue vehile race down the off ramp then back on the interstate. About 10 min. later we left, as we were driving the skyway north bound we both noticed two sets of flashing lights and a little black car. We didn't see anyone in the car. We didnt stop but I do believe someone jumped. Both the rescue guys that were there, were looking over the edge. We stopped on the north side rest area and saw EMT crews and about 3 or 4 boats race out that way. After a little while the EMT crews left and we did to. I don't know if this really happened but I had bad feeling driving over and seein those two rescue vehiles. I just hope that he/she is at peace w/ them selves. oh yeah the little black car had Michigan plates.
12.07.09, Bri, St. Pete, (12.06.09, 4:00pm), There were several sherrif deputies and a state trouper with lights flashing, staring down into the Bay from the apex of the bridge. There was an empty black Accura with its lights still on and windows down....any info? Got a very weird vibe like someone might have jumped several minutes before I got there.
12.07.09, anon, sarasota, (12.06.09, 3:30pm, male), My family and I saw a man in a black car jump from the bridge at around 3:30 yesterday (12/6/2009).
12.08.09, Cindy, St. Petersburg, Florida, (12.06.09, 3:25pm, male, used phones: no, hit water, died), We were driving North on the Skyway Sunday afternoon and saw up ahead that a small black car was pulling over at the apex of the bridge. I immediately knew something was wrong because there was no sign that he was having car trouble. My husband and I knew something, saw him get out of the car and it was evident what his intensions were so we pulled up behind him. Out of respect for the his family, I am not going to elaborate but I will say he was determined and focused. We jumped out of our vehicle to try to stop him but it was too late and he made his decision. Our teenage daughter was with us and was very distraught. She asked why he would do that in front of us. God only knows but I know I will be a better friend, a better listener and will be even more aware of those around me that may be silently suffering and feeling hopeless. For those of you that are reading this because you are thinking of taking your own life, THERE IS NOTHING IN THIS WORLD THAT IS BAD ENOUGH TO DO THIS! God loves you and if you will call out to Him for help HE WILL help you. Life is hard and I can only imagine what you are feeling, thinking, what you have been through, endured but it is not our decision as to when this life ends. Go to a friend, a church, pick up a phone and call 911... whatever it takes but ending your life will not end the pain. There is HOPE. PLEASE, do not do this to yourself, to your family, to another stranger that drives away wishing they could have helped or a teenager that doesn't understand why. Your decision not only affects you...We shed tears over a person we didn't know but had value and was important to someone in this world. We have wondered who he was and what was so bad that he felt this was the only way out. I now know his name was Jeremy and that even though we never met, I will never forget him. I am praying for his family and friends. (thank you for the time you took to detail your story. people choosing the bridge for their grand finale, apparently do not care that they are putting on a live action horror show for those that witness their disappearance over the side. you are now in a group of many others that have the vision of a jumper's last moment alive, forever etched into your mind. we hope you cope.)
12.09.09, DEN, Clearwater, (12.06.09, 3:30pm, male, died), I was driving North bound on Sunday when I saw this black car pulling over on top of the bridge. My sister was driving and we thought it was a tourist that was going to get out and take pictures. Much to my surprise as soon as we drove by, he jumped off the bridge. My teenage daughter and another friend was in the car. I have been so upset since Sunday. My brain can't believe what my eye saw. We slowed down and then had to pull off the road. We all stood besides the sea wall in hopes that what we just saw wasn't so. God Bless to his family!!!! (we imagine what you felt is a normal reaction most witnesses must have after seeing such an event. it's something you'll never forget, much to your dismay.)
any more info is welcome.
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATTEMPT 1 SKYWAY BG 15:32 19:24
12.07.09, hcso.tampa.fl.us, Jeremy M. Costley, DOB 2-21-78, [address withheld], Lakewood Ranch, Florida, December 6, 2009 at 3:34 p.m., Deputies responded to the Skyway Bridge in reference to an individual that had jumped from the center span of the bridge. Costley drove his 1991 Acura Integra northbound just south of the center span and exited his vehicle and jumped off the bridge. The body was recovered by local fisherman and taken to the marina. Next of kin has been notified. (thanks to michelle in tampa.)
|12.09.09, bradenton.com, HILLSBOROUGH A man who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge at about 3:34 p.m. Sunday has been identified as Jeremy M. Costley, 31, of Lakewood Ranch. Costley drove his 1991 Acura Integra northbound and stopped just south of the center span. Witnesses, several who stopped their cars, saw him exit his vehicle and jump off the bridge.|
12.08.09, anon, Further in the 11/6(Jeremy Coston) jumper's myspace page is this
little capsule review of a movie: "The
Bridge. This is a cool IFC documentary about people who jump off the Golden
Gate Bridge. It even has an interview with someone who jumped and lived! The
lesson being hit the water head-first if you're serious about dying;"
(since the beginning of this website, we have had several friends of the site
contact us with declarations of suicide or simple musings of such. we have spent
much time in communication with these people in the hopes we can effect them in
a positive way. we have
facebook and myspace friends that have very dark and
self-destructive postings on their profiles. many are lonely, sad, hurting,
angry, unemployed, feel unloved, unwanted, have failed at life in some way,
and/or have no hope for a better future. sometimes they pump up their profiles
with enough bullshit about all the cool things they are doing, how great their
life is, and their unrealistic listing of all 450 of their 'friends' to the
point you wonder who they are trying to fool. usually, they are only fooling
themselves and then only for a while, until they crash head on into reality. we
are sure some of our skywaybridge.com friends will do them self in at some point
in time. reading mr. costley's myspace profile raises some red flags about his
eventual intention. we hope if you notice such a theme on a friend's social
profile, that you involve yourself to find out what your friend's intentions
truly are and that you respond accordingly.)
12.10.09, anomyous, michigan, i think that this site gives me a huge feeling of sickness, from you pulling up personal information on jumpers personal sites, to "placing bets" on who will be next. if you actually think this is a good site, my question is why, it seems to me as if you are "glorifying" these decisions that these people choose to make when they feel alone and completely desperate. and you make me absolutely sick. (mr. costley's myspace page was set up by mr. costley as a public profile, thus enabling any and all public to view his page and read all about him. as a public profile, we are welcome to it's contents. let this be a lesson to you, kids, don't put personal information on a public forum if you don't want it to appear elsewhere on the interwebs. things you put on your profiles can and will come back to haunt you by those you know, as well as strangers, employers, and law enforcement. think before you post. if you read this site at all, you would quickly see it is not a site that glorifies jumpers. on the contrary, we point out the failings of their jump, so as to perhaps prevent others from jumping and receiving the same treatment. our number one concern is not those who jump, but those who may jump in the future.)
12.12.09, Melissa, Saginaw, MI., Jeremy Costley was a good friend of mine that I knew from Michigan. He was a nice guy, I know he has been battleing depression for long over a year. It is hard to see a friend go through this state. My best friend and myself had him stay with us for a year in Florida. We were afraid this would happen in Michigan a year prior. He had other issues with life that I dont feel is appropriate to post here. It seemed like he was doing better and moved out on his own. Shortly after, I had to move back to Michigan to live with my family.
Jeremy had a steady full time job, and I feel that he enjoyed his stay in Florida. This was a good move forward for him, since the economy was so bad in Michigan. I just wish that he would have kept in contact with me. I had no idea that he was in such a state again. The last I knew, his internet was down and he has not been able to use the computer much if at all.
Unfortunatley, I can not post any of this information on his Myspace, because only the owner can approve comments. I can only say that Jeremy was a good person and he felt a lot of pain. I hope that he is in a better place now and his family and his friends are in my prayers.
My thanks goes out to all of you wittness that attempted to help. My apologies for bearing the sight and loss of my friend. And thank you for sharing all the information that you have.
God Bless you Jeremy Costley and may you Rest In Peace. xoxoxo Melissa (we are sorry you lost your friend. thank you for your kind words about him.)
12.13.09, Trina, Bay City, Hi I'm another friend of Jeremy Costley. I've known Jeremy for about 12 years. It had been a while since I had seen him. I wish I had a chance to see him more recently before he did this. He was always a great person, was always a great friend when I needed one. He even used to have a little crush on me; which makes me smile when I think of his in discreet ways of flirting with me:) I know he battled depression, but I guess I never pictured him actually acting on it. After he found out about our friend Kim killing herself, I thought it may have made him see things differently. I just hope he finally found the peace that he had been searching for. He will always be missed. Love you Jeremy RIP. If anyone has obituary info please e-mail it to the address listed thank-you.(sorry you lost your friend. there is obituary info below.)
12.13.09, Ann R., MA., I first heard about the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Dec.12,2009 when I received a phone call from my brother who lives out west. His friend's brother and son-in-law was traveling on the bridge when the car in front of them pulled over and stopped. They pulled over too thinking they could help with a flat tire or something but, before they could speak to him the person who I am sure is Jeremy Costly got out of his car, walked around it and jumped off the bridge. The story of this man's jump traveled by word of mouth from FL to three other distant states. God bless those who are so desperate, they feel that jumping is the only answer. God bless those who are tramatized by witnessing this last desperate act.
12.14.09, April, Saginaw, Mi., I'm also another friend of Jeremy Costly from Michigan. Jeremy was a great person and will certainly be missed!! I wish he could have found another way to deal with his battles so he didn't have to choose this as his only way out!! I hope he has found peace! You will be missed!! Rest in peace! I wish all the love and strength to his family! -April xoxo
12.21.09, imlad, readandfindout.com, Anyone else find this linked website offensive? Last week I learned that a friend of mine had committed suicide. Jeremy had moved to Florida from Michigan a year or so ago, ostensibly to get away from the bad drug scene he'd gotten himself hooked into (oxys, coke). The last time I heard from him about 9 months ago he was doing well, cleaned out and working. But he didn't have many friends down there. Anyways, I found out last week that he had jumped off of a bridge down in FL. When I did a google search for his name I came across the link below. I had never heard of this site, and I almost can't believe that it exists. I find it disgusting (and I admit that I am prejudiced against it right now as it does in fact talk about my late friend). Am I just reacting in a completely emotional way? Is there ANY legitimate value to a site like this? Or is it as disgusting and inappropriate to you as it seems to me? replies:
12.21.09, Isaac, Not exactly offensive, just gallows humor. I laugh like crazy at the Darwin Awards, so I I'm not really in a position to pass judgment. Practically choked to death laughing when I hit the one link and they started playing Van Halen. Yeah it's messed up, but a lot of humor is. Black Comedy, etc, tends to be offensive to some people, who might be the first to fall over laughing at another case.
12.21.09, Animosity, Offensive is so subjective. I can understand how this can be offensive to you or anyone who knows someone this site is reporting on. I am in no way trying to be my typically asshole self...But...None of us in this life have a right to not be offended by others. We have the right to ignore it and not to partake which is why I would suggest you get on with your life and live it the way your friend would want you to.
12.21.09, vandevere, Let's see... Distasteful, yes... And morbid too; very morbid. I don't know about offensive though. But definitely the other two...
12.22.09, snoopcester, I can see why friends and family of someone would find it offensive. Is it offensive to me? No, because it is not a relative or a friend of mine "featured" but I would, most likely, be offended if it was.
12.22.09, ironclad, It's in really bad taste and I don't see why people think it funny.
(offense is in the mind of the beholder. this seems to be the jest of the replies to your query. we're sorry you lost your friend. we believe the only legitimate value to the site would be the offhand chance a person, such as your friend jeremy, would stumble on it while thinking suicide, only to realize the folly of his thought. the site is also the only source of information that many families have as to the hows and whys of jumping off the bridge and the effect it has on those left behind. many have hooked up through the site in an effort to find closure with the often selfish act of suicide. remember kids, jumping off the bridge will put you up for "Distasteful, yes... And morbid too; very morbid" ridicule and leave those left behind to deal with your inability to fight your way through life. it's not a way to rid yourself of pain and sorrow, but simply a way to pass your pain and sorrow on to those that know and love you.)
12.23.09, Lee Anne, midland, MI., I just found out today. Does anyone have obituary info? or information about where he's buried? To know him was to love him; i cannot regret the things left unsaid enough. (if anyone contacts us with this info, we will pass it along here. we're sorry you lost your friend.)
12.29.09, Melissa, Saginaw, MI., All I know is that the family plans on having service in January, I am assuming in the earlier part. I will post day and time for friends/family that stumble upon this site looking for this information.
01.04.10, Lee Anne, Midland, MI., The services for Jeremy will be Saturday, January 9th at 2 p.m., at the Clare chapel of Stephenson-Wyman. Visitation starts at 1p.m. If anyone wanted to carpool, find me on myspace or facebook.
01.09.10, alison, saginaw/reese, mi., to cindy of st. petersburg, fl...over the last five years or so i have lost SO many friends to themselves. it hurts the ones who survive, and although your efforts were lost, you tried. i was wondering if you could tell me privately what he last said. jeremy was a long time friend. if nothing else-i am glad he had someone to tell his last words to, i am glad someone stopped. rest in peace jeremy, see you in a few. (sorry you lost your friend. we passed along your email and address to cindy and she responds below.)
01.09.10, Cindy, St. Petersburg, Florida, Thank you, Alison. I have reached the point that I don't see it replay in my mind over and over again but I still think daily and I pray for his family and friends. Actually he didn't say anything. He knew we were there, getting out of our car but jumped before we could even say a word... he was very determined. I am sorry for your loss of so many friends and pray that through this tragedy people will know that God loves them, He is real and just waiting for them to call out to Him. He tells us in the scripture Romans 3:23 that "All of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory". (No one is perfect and our deeds and works don't get us into heaven) and in Romans 6:23 that "Sin pays off with death. But God's gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord." The only way to heaven and eternal life with Him is to simply accept the gift of his son, Jesus, that became the ultimate 'sacrificial lamb' so that we didn't have to pay that price. So many people think that they have nothing or no one to care. They feel they would have to give up something, and addiciton or desire to accept God in their life. Some feel so hopeless but no one has to live in that darkness. I don't know why we happened to be the ones that had to witness this but there is a reason and I want to live out that purpose by telling others. I am hopeful that someone will hear his story and change their mind about doing this to themselves or others that are left behind. Thank you for contacting me and I wish you the best, Cindy
|11.14.09: possible jumper|
thank you, jumpnews
11.14.09: Just me, Bradenton, FL., (11.14.09, 6.38pm), At the top of the bridge was an empty older model sedan. It was dark out. Nothing else that I could see. Does anyone know anything more? Gave me a sick feeling.
any more info is welcome.
|11.10.09: save, male
11.10.09, Tra, Dunedin, (11.10.09, 1:30pm, male), Pinellas County EMS is working a suicidal person on top of skyway right now. Subject has a rope tied around his neck, and the other end tied to the bumper of his car. Subject also has a knife. Pinellas EMS is talking to him right now.... Don't know if this would classify as a jumper, because his apparent goal is NOT to hit the water...later: (didn't jump, taken away), Per EMS Scanner, Florida Highway Patrol took subject into custody at 1:44 pm.
10.10.09, Zolter, Largo, FL., (11.10.09, 1:30pm, didn't jump, taken away), Male on railing (south bound) with rope around his neck tied to jeep. He also has a knife to his neck. Update - subject taken into custody. Tasered
any more info is welcome.
tampabay.com, Authorities rescue would-be bridge jumper, By Kameel
Stanley, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Nov 10, 2009 05:03 PM
ST. PETERSBURG Authorities rescued a man who was planning on jumping off the Sunshine Skyway bridge on Tuesday.
The Florida Highway Patrol got a call about 1:30 p.m. about a disabled vehicle southbound at the top of the bridge, officials said.
When troopers got there, they found the man, who had tied a rope around his neck and secured the end to his car, said FHP spokesman Sgt. Larry Kraus. He also had a knife, officials said.
Troopers and paramedics who responded to the scene negotiated with the man, who backed away from the bridge wall.
Then, while the man was distracted, another trooper approached from behind and subdued him, Kraus said. He was taken into custody under the Baker Act.
Authorities did not release the man's name. He is 44 years old, Kraus said.
11.11.09, bradenton.com, Firefighter talks down Skyway jumper, By ROBERT NAPPER
A Jeep at the Sunshine Skyway Bridges highest point looked abandoned, but firefighters quickly learned it certainly was occupied when a man with a rope tied around his neck jumped out and onto the ledge of the bridge, and put a knife to his neck.
The 44-year-old man told St. Petersburg Fire Rescue firefighters and paramedics not to come closer and that he planned to jump, setting off a standoff Tuesday that closed southbound lanes and snarled traffic on the bridge for miles.
It was definitely one of those situations that appears routine at first, but did not end up that way, said firefighter and paramedic Seth Jacobson.
Events leading up to the standoff began with a 1:20 p.m. alert call advising of a vehicle stopped at the apex of the bridge, not uncommon at a site with a dubious reputation for suicide jumpers.
When Jacobson and his crew arrived, a Jeep appeared to be abandoned. But procedure required firefighters to walk up to the vehicle for a check, then if the vehicle is indeed empty, a search of the water below is ordered.
But 15 feet from the Jeep, as firefighters weathered heavy winds walking to the vehicle, they spotted the shadow of man in the passenger seat. The man in the Jeep saw them, too.
He suddenly jumped out and onto the ledge of the bridge, sitting with both his feet dangling off. He was so unsteady as the wind had him teetering, Jacobson said.
The man also had a knife to his neck, and rope around his neck with the other end tied to a roll bar inside the Jeep.
He was serious, Jacobson said.
With the southbound lanes of the bridge closed, and the wind whipping and making it difficult to hear, the firefighters began trying to talk the man down. For 30 to 40 minutes, the man talked about how bad his life had become, how someone in his family had caused his pain, Jacobson said.
It felt like six hours, but we started to gain his trust, said Jacobson.
The man finally blurted out a statement to which Jacobson responded that seemed to turn the tide of the dangerous situation.
He shouted something like, You dont know the beast inside me! I just said back, I have the beast in me, too, we all do. When I said that, it seemed like he pulled the knife off his neck some, Jacobson said.
After firefighters promised to bring a loved one to the scene the man said he wanted there, he put one foot back over the ledge, then a second. He then stepped back onto the bridge and faced the firefighters.
That gave a Florida Highway Patrol trooper the chance to hit the man with a Taser from behind, grab the knife and take him into custody.
The mans name was not released, but a relieved Jacobson said he had mentioned being from St. Petersburg.
I have been doing this for 25 years, so there is nothing that really scares me, said Jacobson. But this did ratchet up. I am just glad its over, especially since it ended well. I just hope the guy gets the help he needs.
|11.16.09, Alan "tired of traffic", Largo, FL., I am sick
of waiting in traffic for hours because some idiot thinks life is tough.... Of
course it is!!!! Deal with it. Suicide is a cowards way out. If you want to
die, get a dangerous hobby. If you can't afford a dangerous hobby, buy a rope
and take care of your coward business in a private location. Maybe even do the
coroners a favor and call them right before you kick the chair out from under
your feet. They will appreciate not having to smell a rotten corpse. I swear
to god, I have been close to throwing myself off that bridge after waiting 2
hours to go the last 5 miles of the span. Buy a gun, and get it done, fast,
painless, and best part of all, NO TRAFFIC. Suicide is selfish enough to your
family, let alone the thousands of commuters that like to use the bridge.
Don't be douche... I think it is a great idea for the
electric rails... They just need to
put signs up warning potential jumpers, that way they don't even bother, and
screw up traffic. And after that rant.... Death by drowning is one of the
worse ways to die... Its right up there with burning alive. And lets be
real... you are probably going to survive the impact, but like stated on this
site, you will drown with broken bones.
PS I think a cliff diving skyway competition could deter jumpers... Maybe not, but the fall IS very survivable if you know how to hit the water. found the site looking for last weeks dumbass with the noose tied around his neck. He caused me a one hour headache. (we agree, the electric rail system will deter jumpers more than anything yet conceived. sure, someone will figure out they can climb onto their car and leap over the rail, but if they are that determined, so be it. it's just not possible to save everyone from them self. we have never been caught up in jumper traffic, but imagine it's about as much fun as a root canal. better bring magazines next time, just in case.)
|open request to this person: care to tell your story?|
|11.03.09: possible jumper|
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATTEMPT 1 SKYWAY BG 12:02 12:05
any more info is welcome.
|10.31.09: more likely just some knucklehead|
thank you, jumpnews
10.31.09, Big Dawg, btown, (10.31.09, 3:00pm), Man on top of northbound lanes at zenith of bridge with a superman costume on. He was standing near edge facing wind with his cape flappin. Not sure of his intentions but would sure like to know. Trooper was approaching from behind. Is this a jumper or just some knucklehead. Did anyone else see it?? (and where was your camera? why is the awesome picture not posted on this site? it would appear that it could be less a jumper and more a photo op. hope your halloween was equally exciting.)
(any more info is welcome.)
|10.20.09: possible jumper|
thank you, jumpnews
10.20.09, Taylor B., st. petersburg, fl., (10.20.09, 8:30pm), a friend on anna maria island with a view of the bridge from his house called and told me that there were coast guard helicopters doing search patterns and tons of lights on bridge.
any more info is welcome.
10.12.09: jumper, 3:12pm, male, no phones, hit water, died, body found same day
Robert Cecil Laird, 38
the most bizarre jump event:
ex-husband shoots and kills his ex-wife in lakeland, puts her body into the trunk of her car, drives to the top of the skyway bridge, sets the car on fire, and then jumps to his death.
thank you, jumpnews
10.12.09, Zolter, Largo, fl., (10.12.09, male, did not use phones, hit water, body found same day), 35 yo male. FHP arrived on skyway for fully involved car fire. As they arrived male jumped face first into water. 18 ft boat picked up jumper. Single occupant on boat and doing CPR and unable to drive. They are by north fishing pier and awaiting marine unit. later: FD is reporting burnt body in trunk of vehicle. later still: Confirmed death 3:53p, time of call 3:25pm, also body in vehicle confirmed sig 7
10.12.09, anon, We were at the top of the bridge, about 200 feet from a car fire in the southbound lane, on the shoulder. The car fire was fully engulfed. A FHP car drove by us on the right shoulder up to the burning car. A man ran to edge of the bridge, almost at the middle of the span, right after FHP drove past. He climbed up on the edge and did a super-man dive over the side. The guy in a pickup truck in front of us saw the same thing. We both got out and ran to the side. The jumper was already floating, face down, and not moving. The man from the pick-up truck yelled to the a nearby fishing boat and pointed to the body. The nearby boater was on the way to him. It appeared they were pulling him on board and drove towards the north pier. Everyone was out of their cars, looking over the side, in disbelief of what we all just saw. On the news tonight, we are hearing reports there is a possible second body in the car. It was a strange and sad afternoon.
10.12.09, Paul S., Sarasota, FL., (10.12.09, 3:15pm, hit water, died, body found same day), This is a very strange one. There was a car fire on the top of the SB skyway. The fire dept found a body in the trunk after the fire was put out and witnesses saw a person jump off the bridge. Boaters shortly after picked up the body and took it to O'Neils. My guess this is a murder suicide with the fire to disguise it.
any more info is welcome.
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 3839 1SKYWAY BG 1542 2141
there are many 'calls for service' reports by the lakeland police department on this cold dead turd. he should have been put down like a bad dog long before he woke up on 10.12.09 or used for organ donation until nothing is left. sheryl laird was issued a slew of "victim's rights" pamphlets. those were apparently about as helpful as the restraining order she had against her ex. can't imagine why those worthless pieces of paper didn't keep him from killing her. let this be a lesson to all females dealing with continued harassment from violent ex's. in our opinion, if the restraining order against your ex isn't working, perhaps you should get a gun, learn how to use it, and terminate the jackass immediately the first time you truly feel endangered. no hesitation, no waving the gun in his face threatening to shoot, just 'pop pop pop'. make them kill shots, none of that wounding crap. make sure he is stone cold dead. the restraining order should be proof you needed to take additional precautions in the protection of your life. chances are, your kids will be better off without him anyway. you sure as hell will be. remember to repeat the heartfelt phrase "i was in fear of my life" every chance you get during the resulting investigation. the preceding opinion is just our opinion and should be taken as our opinion. your opinion may vary, but you'd be wrong.
tbo.com, 2 bodies found at Sunshine Skyway Bridge
One body was found in the water. A second body was found in the trunk of a burned car, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.
Lt. Joel Granata, spokesman with St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue, said his department received a call at 3:12 p.m. of a car on fire on the bridge.
Firefighters popped the car's truck and found a body, said Debbie Carter, a sheriff's office spokeswoman.
"The body was kind of burned, so I can't tell you for sure if it was a female or a male," Carter said.
Firefighters were extinguishing the fire on the car when they received several calls of a man who jumped off the bridge. A Florida Highway Patrol officer also saw the man jump off the bridge, the sheriff's office said.
The fire department sent marine units to the scene.
When the fire department unit reached the bridge, the body of a white male in his 30s had been recovered by three people in an 18-foot fishing boat. The man in the water and the person in the car are connected, Granata said.
"From confirmation they are related," Granata said. The man found dead in the water "was the driver of the car."
Southbound traffic on the bridge has been reduced to one lane as the sheriff's office investigates the case, FHP said. Southbound traffic is backed up to 54th avenue North, FHP said. Northbound lanes have remained open as officers investigate, FHP said.
Carter said the investigation will be a lengthy process. Sheriff's investigators were trying to determine whether to bring the medical examiner to the scene or move the car to another location and have the medical examiner meet them there, Carter said. (thanks to zolter in largo.)
10.12.09, tampabay.com, Authorities find body in trunk of burned car on Skyway
By Michael Van Sickler and Luis Perez, Times Staff Writers
TAMPA Cameras fixed on the Sunshine Skyway's tallest span captured it all Monday afternoon:
A car stopped. A man got out. Flames engulfed the car.
Then, as Pinellas firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, the man jumped off the bridge to his death.
Only afterward did firefighters make an even more startling discovery a dead body in the trunk.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office did not release the names of the dead Monday. The jumper is a man believed to be in his 30s. And the body in the trunk was charred so badly, authorities could not immediately identify the gender.
The investigation at the scene crippled southbound traffic for hours, leaving many stranded on the bridge into dark.
The drama began at 3:12 p.m., said Lt. Joel Granata, a spokesman for St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. Several 911 callers reported a fire blocking southbound lanes.
Calls continued after firefighters were dispatched, Granata said. People saw a man walking down a bridge. At least one saw him holding a gasoline can.
Then came the calls about a jumper.
Granata said the whole thing was captured on Department of Transportation cameras. "They usually see everything that goes on, on the bridge," he said.
The man hit the water close to three fishermen who dragged him out and performed CPR on him, Granata said. A marine rescue unit arrived and took the man to O'Neill's Marina in St. Petersburg, where he was declared dead.
Meanwhile, investigators looked in the car's trunk and discovered the body. The fire scene became a homicide scene and the case was turned over to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over that part of the bridge.
The episode caused massive traffic problems for commuters. Four hours after the initial call, only one southbound lane was open, backing up cars backed up more than 10 miles through St. Petersburg to 54th Avenue N, said Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Larry Kraus.
It's 8:30 p.m. and my mom is still stuck on that stupid bridge...," wrote one person commenting on tampabay.com. People waited in traffic for hours.
"It's absolutely sick," said Bob Bartlett at the O'Neill's Marina bait shop. It happens quite frequently."
Because of the marina's close proximity to the Skyway, Coast Guard vessels often bring the bodies of bridge jumpers in through O'Neill's, he said.
He recognizes the sadness of lives ended on the Skyway, but wishes strangers didn't have to be so inconvenienced.
"The bridge is tied up," he said Monday evening. "The cars are backed up. If someone wants to take their life, why do they have to hold the bridge up?". comments follow article. (thanks to Taylor B. on facebook.)
10.13.09, tampabay.com, Passing driver takes photo of Skyway horror
Dan Aberg was heading south over the Sunshine Skyway on Monday afternoon when he saw a trail of smoke ahead.
Just another accident in the same old trouble spot, he thought.
Still, he had his cell phone in one hand and, while he had never taken a photograph with it, raised it to his windshield and snapped. He continued over the bridge at 50 mph and didn't give it another thought.
Until he saw news reports later.
Only then did Aberg realize he may have unwittingly captured a crucial moment in an apparent murder-suicide at the top of the Skyway that snarled rush hour traffic for hours.
The photo shows a car parked at the top of the bridge, fire shooting out of the trunk and a man standing nearby.
Authorities say a body was found inside the trunk and that the man who set it jumped off the bridge to his death.
"It didn't occur to me in the slightest that something like this could be going on," Aberg told the St. Petersburg Times in an exclusive interview. "Stuff happens up there all the time. I figured somebody's luggage or tire was on fire. Then I saw people stopped on the side of the road and I saw the emergency people coming, so I figured everything was under control."
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over that part of the bridge because it spans the shipping channel, said a small gray car stopped on the bridge around 3 p.m. and a man got out. As St. Petersburg Fire Rescue tried to extinguish the flames, the man jumped off the bridge to his death. Then firefighters discovered a burning body in the trunk.
The Lakeland Police Department is now taking over the investigation.
Aberg said he didn't know of the extent of the bizarre incident on the bridge until he arrived at work in Sarasota on Tuesday morning.
"To be honest, that's just not something I would have thought of," he said.
comments follow the article, mostly the same old arguing back and forth about a situation they know nothing about. several commenteers wondered why mr. aberg didn't stop to help. could it be there was a guy that just killed his ex and has set her body and the car on fire? sure, he didn't know that at the time, but looking at the picture, one might see some potential danger there. if it were an actual car fire emergency, the driver of the burning car would have been frantically flagging down passing cars for help, not pacing around, trying to muster up the courage to jump off the bridge. we at skywaybridge.com are pleased mr. aberg did not stop to help. had he done so, shithead robert laird may have injured or killed mr. aberg as well. then maybe laird would not have jumped to his death, only then to be paraded around in court rooms and on our news for many years to come. thank you for not stopping to help, mr. aberg. other than not hanging around a bit longer for a picture of the jackass actually jumping off the bridge, you did the right thing.
10.13.09, tampabay.com, Photo of Skyway horror sparks reader discussion. comments follow article, like this one: mike, "I was coming northbound and saw smoke starting to come up as I was getting on the bridge. By the time I was to the top it had gotten thick and the car looked like a fire ball as I drove by. There was a man walking away from the vehicle headed northbound".
10.13.09, tampabay.com, Lakeland police identify Skyway jumper amid homicide investigation. comments follow article.
10.13.09, theledger.com, Person Found in Burning Car on Skyway Bridge Had Been Killed in Lakeland, Police Say. video and pictures with article.
10.14.09, tbo.com, Police ID Skyway jumper in murder-suicide. video report.
10.14.09, tampabay.com, Skyway tragedies tarnish span's reputation for architectural beauty,
By Emily Nipps, Times Staff Writer
The Sunshine Skyway opened 22 years ago with a ribbon-cutting and speeches, hailing the structure as an engineering marvel and a symbol of the Tampa Bay area's future.
But for those who know and travel the bridge, it is as likely to conjure thoughts of lives gone awry as any appreciation of architectural beauty.
This week's murder-suicide left traffic tied up for hours after a man jumped to his death and left a body burning in a car trunk.
For many, it was just the latest reminder of the Skyway's grim reputation.
Carissa Caricato, a spokeswoman for the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, was one of the drivers stuck in the Skyway's northbound lanes about 7 p.m. Monday. She typically avoids the bridge "at all costs," she said. When she found out what the trouble was, her heart sank.
"It's one thing to know about the things that go on there," Caricato said. "But to actually see the scene is very intense."
The original Sunshine Skyway opened in 1954. It was replaced after one of the most horrific tragedies in the area's history: In 1980, a wayward phosphate freighter rammed into the southbound span, collapsing a section. Vehicles plunged into Tampa Bay, and 35 people died.
A new, high-tech $240-million Skyway Bridge went up seven years later. It is one of the most recognized landmarks in the area but also carries the distinction of being one of the country's deadliest bridges for suicides.
The Skyway ranks fourth behind three bridges on the West Coast, including the top-ranked Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
More than 130 people have died jumping from the bridge since it opened in 1987. About a dozen who made the 192-foot drop have survived.
Theories vary on why people jump from a bridge. Some believe suicidal people are drawn to public acts, perhaps to send a message. Others believe in a copycat effect.
Dr. Jerome Motto ran a ward for suicidal patients at the University of California at San Francisco for more than 30 years and has published 85 works on suicide and suicide prevention.
"From my experience and intuitive judgment, to commit suicide in any beautiful place de-stigmatizes the act," said Motto, considered a top expert on bridge suicides, having interviewed and studied several Golden Gate survivors. "The majesty of the setting diminishes, and sometimes obliterates, that stigma."
Over the years he has weighed in on various ideas to reduce or stop suicide attempts on bridges.
"With the Golden Gate Bridge, I know some of those ideas have not been that successful," he said. "But you do what you can do."
After nearly two dozen Skyway suicides in 1998 and 1999, Gov. Jeb Bush asked state transportation officials to consider safety nets or fences on the sides of the Skyway.
The DOT ruled out those options, saying fences would affect the bridge's aerodynamics and could make it less safe in high winds. Safety nets would be ineffective because people could crawl to the edge of the net and jump.
Instead, the DOT installed six solar-powered crisis phones along the bridge. The phones call into the 24-hour Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, alerting operators with a special ring.
According to Caricato, the center has received 27 suicide calls from the phones in the past 10 years, including four in the past five months. In all but one of those, the caller didn't jump.
"A lot of people go up there with a mission in mind, though, and they're the ones who jump," Caricato said.
Monday's events also revived questions about surveillance cameras.
Thirteen cameras help monitor traffic and other activity on the main span. Images from the cameras are observed by DOT employees at an office near Busch Gardens in Tampa.
But the cameras can't cover the entire bridge, and they don't record the images.
By the time Monday's incident popped into view, all the DOT employee could see was a burning car on the edge of the camera's range.
The quality of the feeds from the Skyway are also grainy, said DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.
"There's been no pressure" to do more, Carson said, "because I think what we do is pretty effective."
Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. comments follow article.
(they spent over $1million on cameras that apparently do not record, display grainy images, and have very little power to stop a jumper. the solar phones were almost as much and have had success, but few use them. we will continue pushing this device on all you clowns in charge that say you want to stop jumpers, but apparently do nothing more to actually do something about it. go here. check it out. take a look.)
10.15.09, tampabay.com, Police say man made trip to daughter's school on day he killed ex-wife and jumped from Skyway. comments follow article.
10.18.09, tampabay.com, Sunshine Skyway tragedy reveals two lives taking very different paths.
LAKELAND, This past Monday, Robert Laird shot his former wife, Sheryl, dead in her home, put her in the trunk of her car and drove some 60 miles to the tallest part of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. He stopped in the breakdown lane on the southbound span. He got out of the car, doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.
He stood on the side of the road. Flames blocked the lanes and cars stopped. He put a coffee mug down, climbed to the top of the short concrete wall, stretched out his arms, and finally left her alone.
Inside the burning trunk was the mother of his 7-year-old daughter.
A woman who was consistently thoughtful and willfully optimistic in spite of years of domestic torment. She was losing weight and moving on, and had found a new love.
A woman who was murdered by her former husband, her friends believe, because she was happy and he was not.
Her parents called her a miracle.
George and Natalie Partington met at a fraternity party at New York University. Love at first sight. They married in 1958. Two years later, they had a son, Douglas. Doctors told Natalie she probably wouldn't be able to have any more children.
Sheryl was born in 1970. Liz was born in 1972.
They moved from New York to Florida and raised their three kids in a wood-paneled home. George was a middle school English teacher for 30 years. Natalie was a nurse. All three of their kids went to the same public schools. All three at one point lived back at home as adults. All three eventually bought houses nearby.
They attend Sunday services at the one-story, concrete block Church of Religious Science in rural Auburndale, where members believe in the power of affirmative prayer. Good things come to those who think good thoughts.
"You're not just some weak thing to be thrown about," George Partington said the other day in his home. "By using your positive thinking, you can bring about positive things in your experience."
"Mom and dad," said Liz Partington, Sheryl's sister, "raised us to see the good in people and to help people step up."
Sheryl Partington met Robert Laird through a friend who had a band. Robert was a roadie.
They both lived in Brandon. He had a GED. He was a well-read history buff. He worked odd jobs construction, delivery, cleaning houses after people moved out but he worked. And he was close to his mother. Sheryl liked that.
He wouldn't open up to her, though, or most anybody else, her family would later say, and he was moody. Later they would wonder if he was mentally ill.
Sheryl waited seven years for him to propose. She made her own wedding invitations and chose the music. They married on Oct. 3, 1998, in a church ceremony at sunset in a small chapel with stained glass windows. Her dad officiated.
"She saw something in him," said Lisa Pompeo, a longtime friend.
"He was a soul," said another friend, Jeremy Porter, "that she was trying to help."
Sheryl worked for almost 18 years as a graphic artist at a local penny saver magazine called the Flyer. She was a big talker with a trademark giggle, according to co-workers, and she brought in Valentine's Day cards and Christmas cards every year. One time she brought everybody Happy Bunny stickers from the Dollar Store.
She struggled with her weight for most of her life, her family said, and she was self-conscious about it. But she wore dresses and skirts with heels and hose, even in the summer, and she always styled her baby-fine hair.
She and her friends often had what they called "lunch therapy" at Red Lobster or Olive Garden or Sonny's barbecue for the $5.99 special.
Sometimes, though, she ate alone in a conference room while reading romance novels.
"She loved that stuff," Pompeo said. "She was a romance kind of girl. There's a woman, there's a man, they're in love "
Sheryl and Robert at first lived in an apartment by the interstate. It was all they could afford.
She paid the bills. He called her fat.
In 2000, around Christmas, they saw a little green house blocks away from their parents' place. Robert and Sheryl bought it for $48,500 in March. She became pregnant that month.
Her sister, not Robert, was Sheryl's Lamaze coach. Her sister's husband, not Robert, built her baby's crib.
Robert was checking out, Sheryl's sister said, maybe in "shock" or "denial" with a baby on the way.
The girl was born in December. In Sheryl's early years as a mother, she could budget to get groceries for $25 a week, while Robert hid booze. Sheryl saved $5 bills to buy her daughter Happy Meals when she got a little older. Robert's mother suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and had to go to a nursing home, and that made him even worse.
Sheryl suggested marriage counseling. He refused. She told him it might be their last chance. He refused.
She asked for a divorce. He moved out.
He started sitting in a car and watching her house while she was inside. She would ask him to leave. He wouldn't go. She got a permanent domestic violence injunction in 2005.
The next year, he was living in Brandon, and he came to Sheryl's house to pick up their daughter for a visit, and he splattered a foul, sour liquid from a cup onto her face. She later told friends it was urine. That was in April.
The divorce was done in September 2006.
Robert was not.
December 2006: disturbance.
January 2007: criminal mischief.
February 2007: disturbance.
April 2007: suspicious incident.
Sheryl told friends he slashed her tires at least twice, broke her air conditioning and turned off her electricity. He left notes on the windshield of her car so she would find them in the morning.
Her sister's husband started driving by on his way to work to check on her.
At the Flyer, by the front desk, there was a picture of Robert with his name and a message: Don't let this man in.
They still shared custody of their daughter. She called her "Munchkin" and "Monkey Pants." Sometimes the girl told Sheryl the bad things her father was saying about her.
Friends sometimes overheard Sheryl talking to her daughter on the phone at work. "One day you're going to understand," they remember Sheryl saying, "but right now I can't explain it to you."
She wanted to protect her daughter from the domestic strife, and at some point she stopped sharing as much with her friends, too. Maybe, they thought, she didn't want to bother them with it. Or maybe she was a little embarrassed. Or maybe she just wanted it to be over.
Friends wondered last week how it could have been different if she had said more.
"I fear she did not report half the stuff he did because of her nature," Terry Tidwell said.
In 2008, the second full year after the divorce, Robert lived for a while in Brandon with his stepdad. And then he was alone, because his stepdad moved out after he lost his construction job, and Robert was sleeping on a mattress on the floor and had no job. The landlord kicked him out.
George and Natalie Partington found him sleeping on their deck one day in August.
He said he was homeless and that he had come to say goodbye to them and his daughter. They thought maybe if he had an address he could get a job.
"I wouldn't let my granddaughter have her daddy that way," Natalie Partington said. "I just couldn't."
"It's our belief system," George Partington said.
Good things come to those who think good thoughts.
They let him in.
"Well," Sheryl wrote in April in an e-mail to a friend, "I'm not going to lie, I was let go from my job of almost 18 years last week. I'm really trying to wrap myself around the whole Ferris Bueller way of thinking that life's too short, enjoy it while you can. "
When the Flyer let her go, she used some of her severance to buy a new computer so she could do freelance design, and she took classes at the New Horizons computer school in Tampa so she could do it better.
She re-painted the walls inside her little house. No more brown. No more pale blue. Now: pink, yellow, orange.
She joined Weight Watchers and lost 70 pounds.
She was re-hired at the Flyer in the summer.
She had a new love, too, a man she met at work, also an artist. They had picnics with her daughter, played tennis together and went to Universal Studios for her birthday.
Earlier this month, said Tidwell, a mutual friend, he mentioned marriage for the first time.
"I think she had found a man who treated her like she deserved and loved her no matter what size, and was kind," said Liz, her sister. "She knew love, good love, that she deserved."
The relationship, Sheryl said in an e-mail to a friend, was "like having an emotional life preserver."
"He helps keep me in good spirits through all the hoo-hah in this world," she wrote.
Friends called it a new beginning. They felt like they were watching a transformation.
Meanwhile, Robert still was living out of two suitcases in a back room of her parents' house. Sometimes he helped with dishes. Sometimes in the morning he walked to the local day labor place.
He was supposed to be paying nearly $800 a month in child support. He paid nothing last fall, then $495.48 in December, then $598.96 in January, then $484.98 in February. Then nothing in March, then $45.09 in April, then nothing in May.
"She was moving forward," said Sheryl's friend Jeremy Porter. "He wasn't moving forward, he was moving backward, and trying to drag her with him every step of the way."
He paid $73.25 in June.
He paid nothing in July.
"She would say, 'I deserve this, darn it all to heck, I'm going to be happy, no matter what crap he throws in my way,' " friend Lisa Pompeo said. "Here he was, poking her, poking her, throwing up this obstacle, throwing up that obstacle.
"He tormented her," she said. "He was not happy that she was happy."
In August, Sheryl filed papers demanding the almost $18,000 in child support he owed. He could've been thrown in jail. A hearing was coming up.
"She was hoping going to court was going to help her help him see, 'Maybe you should go do something with your life,' " Porter said. "She was hoping it would help both of them."
In September, she stepped down from her position as treasurer at church, citing family issues.
She wasn't sleeping well, she said on her Facebook page in October. She was "restless" and "uncomfortable."
"I'm going to blame the ex," she wrote. "It's his fault."
A week ago, she went to her parents' house after work to pick up her daughter. "I'm so, so tired," she told her mother. Then she took her daughter and some of her friends out for ice cream and to feed the ducks at the lake by their house.
On Monday morning she made it to a parent-teacher conference at her daughter's school at 8. She didn't make it to an appointment with her chiropractor later that morning.
Robert returned to her parents' house around noon. Natalie Partington saw him come in. He often was in and out and usually was polite, frequently saying the same thing: "I don't want to bother you folks any more than necessary."
Later that day they would find out what he had done. Now they say they forgive him.
On Monday around noon, though, Robert told Natalie Partington before leaving again that he was going to go out and mow some lawns.
He asked if he could borrow their gas can. comments follow article.
10.23.09, theledger.com, Precautions Evaluated in Skyway Murder Suicide
By SHOSHANA WALTER, THE LEDGER
LAKELAND | Domestic violence experts say Sheryl Laird did everything right.
She divorced Robert Laird. She obtained an injunction. She reported incidents when she suspected her ex-husband was behind them. In the past three years, she called police 10 times.
But Oct. 12, while their 7-year-old daughter was at school, authorities say Robert Laird shot and killed his ex-wife at her home on Interlachen Parkway in Lakeland. They say he put her body in the trunk of his car, stopped at a nearby service station for gas and drove to the Sunshine Skyway bridge in St. Petersburg, where he set the car afire and jumped to his death.
What went wrong?
In the weeks and even years leading up to Sheryl Laird's death, friends and family said they knew some of the things Robert Laird did to try to control his ex-wife. On some occasions, she called police to document the cases, even though police said they could do nothing without evidence or proof.
Lakeland police are now reviewing reports of calls for service at her home to determine whether they could have done things differently. But authorities, friends and family say they are not sure what could have prevented Sheryl's death.
"For 3 1/2 years, he had a lot of rage built up," said Terry Tidwell, Sheryl's friend and co-worker. "There are some people - their minds just snap."
Despite all her efforts and fears, Sheryl and Robert Laird's lives remained intertwined after their 2006 divorce.
They shared a daughter, Kelly, and, about a year ago, Robert moved in with her parents just a few blocks away.
Natalie and George Partington did not return calls seeking comment, but friends say Sheryl's parents took pity on their former son-in-law when they discovered he was homeless and unemployed.
By that time, Sheryl and Robert had been divorced about two years, and a judge had granted her an injunction, ordering him to stay away.
But Robert was never happy about the breakup, and his behavior only got worse. He violated the injunction in 2006 and was charged with battery after throwing a liquid into Sheryl Laird's face, according to arrest records.
Her divorce lawyer, Kim Kaszuba, said Sheryl often caught her ex-husband trailing her while she ran errands, like dropping Kelly off at school.
At The Flyer in Tampa, where Sheryl worked as a graphic artist, co-workers said the art department began locking the doors because Robert refused to stop harassing her.
Sheryl also suspected he was still hanging around her house, and she repeatedly reported burglaries and vandalism to police, but they said there wasn't evidence enough for them to act.
In January 2007 alone, Sheryl reported three times that her tires were slashed and told police she suspected her ex-husband. In the same month, she reported finding dirt and leaves in her clothes dryer.
In February 2007, Sheryl's sister Elizabeth Partington called police to report Robert was drunk and had made threats "to put on a show today at church, and people will be sorry and know what kind of person she is."
Sheryl did not report any incidents in 2008 but resumed calls to police in 2009.
In July, after finding her tires slashed again, she told an officer about the injunction and said she'd seen Robert sitting on a bench across from her house. She wondered whether his presence violated the injunction, according to the report.
In the same month, Sheryl's boyfriend, Robert Howard, reported an incident to police. According to the report, after spending a weekend at her house, Howard found his car would not start.
A mechanic told him water had been put in the gas tank and he'd need to replace the fuel pump. Howard told police he suspected her ex-husband, with whom he'd had problems before.
In many of the cases, officers wrote they were not able to successfully dust for prints. They provided Sheryl and Howard with case numbers and victim's rights pamphlets. Based on typical procedure, they likely did not question Robert.
TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS
Domestic violence experts say Sheryl was right to report the incidents to police.
"She took action. She did what she was supposed to do," said Tiffany Carr, president of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"She called the police when things were done to her vehicles. She reached out for help. ... It's less about what she could have done. It's more about what could we have done with him."
Police should have followed up with Robert to question him about the incidents, Carr said. If he confessed to the crimes, he could be charged. If he didn't, and he was at fault, the police presence might have scared him off, she said.
Police spokesman Jack Gillen said earlier this week that he did not know whether police questioned Robert about the incidents.
But that is not typical procedure, said Gene Lord, coordinator of the department's Domestic Abuse Response Team.
"That is something we do not do. I don't think that's practical for law enforcement," he said.
Without proof or witnesses, many domestic disputes turn into "he said, she said," cases, Lord said, and an arrest is not justified without evidence. Oftentimes, talking to a suspected harasser can cause the person to escalate his or her behavior, rather than curb it.
A victim with an injunction can avoid police involvement altogether by filing a report directly at the courthouse. Still, the report might not result in an arrest.
"Even if you've got a cooperative victim, you still have to have eyewitnesses to prove the crime. A motive might not be enough to file," said Assistant State Attorney Michael Cusick.
Victims can take other steps to safeguard themselves from mounting abuse, Carr said. She suggested calling a domestic violence shelter for counseling and working out a safety plan for evacuation and self-defense. She said a confidential hot line at 800-500-1119 can connect callers with the closest resource.
"We'll continue to look at the reports and give them a close review to see if there's anything we could have done differently," Gillen said. "I think we feel that we did everything legally that we could have done. I don't know if there's something the system could have done to prevent it."
A HAPPY LIFE
Despite her concerns about her ex-husband, Sheryl's life read like an open book, at least on her Facebook profile.
She was at a happy point, friends said, and some of those happy moments - like a recent trip to Disney World with her boyfriend - were displayed on her public profile.
Many now think Robert's mounting rage was fueled by his ex-wife's public display of her personal life.
"The guy just couldn't let go," said her friend Tidwell.
Friends said it also couldn't have helped that Robert was living with Sheryl's parents just a few blocks away from his former home. The couple had taken him in after seeing him on the street with a sign that said he was jobless and hungry, a family member said. The Partingtons didn't want Kelly to see her father that way.
"(Sheryl) was upset with them for taking him in. She was deathly afraid of him. She knew he was the one doing all the stuff to her house and tires," Tidwell said. He shared his own experiences with an ex-girlfriend who could not let go and advised Sheryl to report the incidents to police.
While Sheryl dealt with her ex-husband's harassment, friends said she worked to cultivate a happy life.
"Work, work, work. Taking care of my daughter. My favorite sport is dishwashing, followed up closely by laundry!" Sheryl wrote in the activities section of her Facebook profile. She and her boyfriend were talking about marriage, friends said, and she was helping Tidwell start a new business.
Sheryl helped teach Tidwell about computer basics, and he helped train her in advertising and layout design when she first started at The Flyer 17 years ago. The two were taking computer classes together, and Tidwell hoped to hire her as a full-time graphic artist once he got his Web design business off the ground, he said.
In the meantime, Sheryl worked full time at The Flyer and part time with Tidwell and friend Kathy Wiley on a website for the Dade City Chamber of Commerce.
Sheryl loved spending time with her daughter, watching old movies and chatting on the telephone. Tidwell laughed recalling how she began so many conversations. "'Can I just say' was her favorite line. I mean, she loved to talk."
Sheryl grew up in Lakeland and graduated from the Tampa Technical Institute for Commercial Art in 2001. She and Robert were in the same group of friends at Lakeland High School. Ten years after graduation, the couple married in 1998 at the chapel at Florida Southern College.
"Sheryl and Rob, they seemed so happy together. They seemed really in love," said Darlene Partington, who is married to Sheryl's brother. "She was such a good person. She loved her little daughter."
Tidwell said Sheryl was happy, but she found her husband could be jealous and had a "dark side." The marriage might have ended sooner, he said, but Sheryl was never one to give up.
"She was such an upbeat, nice person. I'm sure she stayed in it too long because of her seeing the positive in people," he said.
Even after their divorce in 2006, friends say Sheryl wanted Kelly to continue having a relationship with her father, but his anger grew worse.
"He was a small guy. He wasn't anything that would appear to be intimidating, but he was very sly and very sneaky. He was always watching and looking and knowing things. He had a stalking mentality," said Kaszuba, her divorce lawyer.
According to Kaszuba, Robert owed almost $18,000 in child support.
He used to work as a courier, friends said, but he was unemployed at the time of his arrest in 2006 and remained unemployed in 2009 even as a child-support hearing, scheduled for Oct. 16, grew near.
"I'm an artist, a mom, a girl who hasn't realized she's grown up yet. I'm very blessed with some really terrific friends and family. I even have a great cat. I'm busy. I do try to relax. I'm also working very hard on knowing that everything is going to be okay! Which it is. I just have to remember it so I can relax a little," Sheryl wrote on her profile page.
Wiley says she wonders now whether she should have warned Laird about the dangers of displaying so many details of her life online.
Tidwell had the same thought.
"I kind of wish she wouldn't have posted them now because that could have fueled the rage more."
The morning of Oct. 12, Robert showed up at his daughter's early morning parent-teacher conference. He was not supposed to be there and was asked to leave, said Wanda Dence, who used to own and still works at Happy Days School in Lakeland, where Kelly was in day care.
About noon, neighbors said they saw Robert at a gas station near his ex-wife's house. He bought some gas and sat in the car trying to make a call on a cellular phone. Then he left.
Sheryl was not scheduled to work at The Flyer that day, but friends from there tried to call her just to chat.
Tidwell called once about 2 p.m. Then he called again. He called four times before he grew concerned. Sheryl was always on the phone, he said.
"I knew something was wrong because she normally calls me right back," he said.
A few hours later, a teacher at Happy Days School also tried calling Sheryl to pick up her daughter. The 7-year-old was the last student left. It was unlike her mother to be late or not to call.
"She always called. She was avid about that. If she was even going to be the tiniest bit late, she would call her parents or Elizabeth," day-care owner Denise Rogers said.
When the teacher couldn't reach Sheryl, she called her sister, Elizabeth.
Just as Partington arrived, a Lakeland police officer pulled up to the Tennessee Avenue center.
"He spoke to (the teacher) in private outside the gate and told the teacher that he was going to be following her (Partington) home," Rogers said. The officer told the teacher something "horrible" had happened to Laird.
Around the same time, Tidwell turned on the news on TV. A man had committed suicide on the Sunshine Skyway, and police had found a body in the trunk of the car.
"What sick people are out there today," Tidwell thought to himself. A few hours later, he learned what had happened to his friend.
10.27.09, poynter.org, Florida Killing Shows Challenges of Contacting Sources on Facebook
|10.12.09, Zachary T., facebook, crazy, real life CSI shit. We were stuck in traffic for an hour but I did get to see the car and all the detectives looking in the trunk! The car looked like a spent charcoal briquette.|
|09.25.09: possible jumper|
thank you, jumpnews
09.27.09, kelly, bradenton, fl., (09.25.09, 11:30am), I was driving NB on the bridge and there was an empty silver Blazer on the top of the span. The car was empty and all the windows were down. There were 4 FHP cars behind the Blazer. I did not see anything on the news. It really is an erie feeling. Coming back over the bridge about an hour later, the bridge was clear and no vehicles were there.
any more info is welcome.
09.20.09: save, male
thank you, jumpnews
09.20.09, zolter, largo, fl., (09.20.09, 10:42pm, male, didn't jump, taken away), FHP on scene of male at top of bridge (south bound-truck) with legs dangling off the railing. FD units made silent approach and subject was taken into custody at about 10:55pm.
09.25.09, Bill, Bradenton Fl., (09.20.09, 10:45pm, didn't jump, taken away), I was there With the two FHP officers after 911 said the troopers didn't cover that area (BULL) the first trooper was talking to the young man as I was sneeking up on the jumper whom was setting on the wall facing the drop zone. Then the second trooper showed up and waived me off as he got ready to make his move, he was 50 ft. closer than I was to the young man. The 2nd trooper waited until the jumper was looking at trooper 1 and arround the jumpers truck he went running with all he had by the time the jumper knew what hit him he was cuffed and off to have some quiet time. GREAT JOB FHP..
(any more info is welcome.)
|open request to this person: care to tell your story?|
|09.09.09: possible jumper|
thank you, jumpnews
09.09.09, zolter, largo, fl., (09.09.09, 7:36pm, male), FD dispatched to Skyway Bridge. Witness states she saw a black male walking on the edge of the bridge on the east span south of the hump. When she looked in rear view mirror she no longer saw him. Unknown if he jumped/fell. FD has gone available but USCG and Eckerd College Search and Rescue are doing search pattern in the channel.
(any more info is welcome.)
|08.28.09: possible mystery jumper|
thank you, jumpnews
08.28.09, zolter, largo, fl., (08.28.09, 4-6am), Fire Dept dispatched about 6:20am this morning. FHP notified the Coast Guard that a vehicle is at the top of bridge (north bound). FHP located the vehicle and moved the vehicle off the bridge. FHP gave info that the vehicle was stolen and the driver got another ride off the bridge. One hour later, the story changed. Now it is being reported that keys and all possessions were in the vehicle. Family member of the owner report that he/she was involved in stealing mail and driver felt they dishonored the family. Family last spoke to driver/owner about 4am. USCG is currently searching Tampa Bay with FD Marine Unit. I am sure the story may still change further.
any more info is welcome.
tampabay.com, Stolen car left atop Skyway triggers fruitless search for
By Brant James, Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG A possible lag in communication between authorities may have slowed the response to a suicide attempt on the Sunshine Skyway early Friday morning.
Or someone chose an odd place to dump a stolen car.
Florida Highway Patrol responded to a disabled beige four-door Ford parked on the bridge around 4 a.m. and had it towed away around 6 a.m. after learning that it had been reported stolen, according to spokesman Sgt. Larry Kraus. The keys were still inside.
FHP notified St. Petersburg Fire Rescue at 7:20 a.m., which began a search with the Coast Guard, according to Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Granata.
Rescuers were baffled: there was no evidence of a vehicle or a suicide attempt on the roadway or traffic cameras.
A search of the rocks and waters beneath the bridge yielded nothing. FHP has no suspects in the theft of the vehicle and no other indication that anyone used to facilitate a suicide attempt.#090895 It's unclear why FHP waited three hours to notify rescuers. comments follow article. (thanks to Mike in Apollo Beach. one million dollars worth of bridge cameras and they have nothing to show? well, nothing they wish to share with those paying for the service.)
08.28.09, tbo.com, Abandoned car leads to search for possible Skyway jumper,
By STEPHEN THOMPSON, The Tampa Tribune
ST. PETERSBURG - A stolen car abandoned on the Sunshine Skyway this morning led to the search for a possible jumper.
But no one has been found, and authorities say it's unclear whether the driver jumped from the bridge or found another way off after leaving the car there.
A citizen spotted the beige Ford four-door sedan at 4:48 a.m., and a trooper was dispatched at 4:50 a.m., said Sgt. Larry Kraus of the Florida Highway Patrol The trooper arrived at 5 a.m. and found the keys inside the car.
As a precaution, the highway patrol asked the U.S. Coast Guard to search the area beneath the bridge. Authorities with St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue said they also were asked to help. (thanks to Freefalling in Tampa.)
|08.28.09, Susan S. W., facebook, Why is there even a search for someone who jumps? Let things go.fish need to eat to.|
|08.14.09: possible jumper|
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 3839 1SKYWAY BG 1351 1357
any more info is welcome.
08.09.09: save, male
thank you, jumpnews
08.09.09, cheepsters, palmetto, fl., (08.09.09, 11:00pm), several police cars speeding by the toll plaza with lights on. southbound traffic closed for recovery.
08.10.09, zolter, largo, fl., (08.09.09, 11:37pm, male, didn't jump, taken away), Subject was detained at about 12:15am after discussions with PD.
(any more info is welcome.)
|08.09.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 3839 1SKYWAY BG 2312 0040 1h28m|
|07.30.09: possible save|
thank you, jumpnews
07.31.09, Corwin O. A., St Pete., (07.30.09, 5:30pm, female, was stopped from jumping), Our carpool group witnessed a woman at the very top of the northbound lane being loaded in a FHP car with handcuffs. Potential jumper in a dark older import. Potential jumper was haggard in appearance. We were really scared.
any more info is welcome.
|07.17.09: jumper, 9:47am, male, hit
water, lived, then dies 08.02.09
Matthew James Clark, 43
07.17.09, Johnny Jumper, Water Way, FL., (07.17.09, 9:47am, male, hit water, lived), Scanner, pick up by fishing boat, still alive, left truck on top of bridge
07.17.09, Ry, st petersburg, (07.17.09, 9:47am, male, hit water, lived), 40 something year old male jumped from skyway... 911 callers saw it happen. a boater under the bridge quickly recovered the body who was breathing and unconscious. pt was considered a trauma alert. taken to hospital
07.17.09, casey s., st pete beach, fl, it just happened one hour ago...7/17/09 around 9:30 AM
07.17.09, Mike, apollo beach, (07.17.09, 9:30am, male, hit water, lived), wfla is reporting a male jumped off the center span about 930 this morning barley missing a boat that ended up rescuing him.
08.02.09, Anonymous, Tampa, FL., Matt Clark died last night at the hospital. He appeared to be recovering, but the injuries were just too substantial and complications took him away. Matt will be terribly missed by his family and friends.
(any more info is welcome.)
|07.17.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 3839 1SKYWAY BG 0953 1404 4h11m|
tampabay.com, Man survives Skyway leap, is rescued by fishermen, By
Brant James, Times Staff Writer, Posted: Jul 17, 2009 10:27 AM
ST. PETERSBURG A man who apparently jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was pulled from the water alive but seriously injured Friday morning. Three men fishing underneath the span came to the rescue, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue authorities said.
The man, who is described as a white male in his 30s, was transported to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition, according to information from Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Joel Granata.
Witnesses said the man parked a Ford F-150 pickup near the top of the northbound span around 9:47 a.m. and jumped. It is unclear whether the fishermen aboard the 18-foot center-console vessel saw the man fall or heard a splash, Granata said. They told rescuers only that the man was bleeding when they pulled him aboard.
A search-and-rescue boat from Eckerd College was first to reach the fishermen, who were told to maintain position until authorities arrived.
The identity of the victim has not been released. The identities of the fishermen were not immediately available. comments follow article.
07.17.09, myfoxtampabay.com, Man survives Sunshine Skyway jump
ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg Fire Rescue says a man who jumped from the center span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge this morning survived.
Several witnesses said they spotted a man in his 30's park his F-150 Ford pickup truck, walk over to the edge and jump shortly after 9:30 a.m., according to SPFR.
Three fishermen in an 18-foot fishing boat where nearby and pulled him onboard until paramedics arrived.
The man, whose name has not been released, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition.
07.17.09, tbo.com, Fishermen rescue man who jumped from Sunshine Skyway
TAMPA - A man survived a jump from the center of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge this morning after three men in a fishing boat pulled him to safety.
Paramedics with St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue, with help from its marine unit and Eckerd College Search and Rescue, met the 18-foot fishing boat and stabilized the man, fire and recue said.
Several witnesses saw the man, described as in his mid-30s, park a white Ford F-150 pickup on the bridge at about 9:45 a.m. He walked to the edge and jumped, landing near the fishing boat.
The man was taken by boat to O'Neill's Marina, 6701 34th Street S., and then by ambulance to Bayfront Medical Center. His name was not immediately available. He is the fifth person to jump from the bridge in 2009 and the second to survive.
07.18.09, bradenton.com, Skyway jumper rescued by Bradenton fishermen critical, By CARL MARIO NUDI
MANATEE A man remained in critical condition Saturday, one day after he jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and was rescued by three fishermen.
A nursing supervisor at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg said the man, who has not been identified, was in "critical but stable" condition Saturday night. He was rushed to the hospital Friday afternoon.
Bradenton resident Steve Burkholder and his two nephews from South Carolina were fishing in a boat under the bridge just before noon Friday when they heard someone yell above and then saw a man fall into Tampa Bay, Burkholder's wife, Annette Burkholder, told the Bradenton Herald.
Annette Burkholder relayed the story of the suicide attempt and a subsequent rescue because her husband and the nephews were too upset to talk about it, she said.
A St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue spokesman confirmed the man parked a pickup at the top of the Skyway, climbed a wall and jumped.
Witnesses told Fire and Rescue personnel at 9:47 a.m. a man, in his 30s, parked a Ford F-150 pickup near the top of the northbound lane, got out and jumped.
Annette Burkholder said her husband told her the three fishermen heard a voice above on the bridge say, "Don't do it."
With Steve Burkholder were nephews Justin Saboley, 24, and Austin Saboley, 16, of South Carolina.
It was around 11:30 a.m., Annette Burkholder said in a telephone interview. The man landed in the water about 100 yards from the boat.
She said when they reached the man he was floating face down in the water and they pulled him into boat.
He was not breathing and was all purple, Annette Burkholder said. There was blood coming from his eyes and ears. He was dead.
Steve Burkholder and the older nephew began pounding on the mans chest while Austin called 911, she said.
By the time the St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue boat arrived about 15 minutes later, the man was breathing, the spokesman said. comments follow article.
07.25.09, tampabay.com, jumper identified: Matthew James Clark, 43, Tampa
07.25.09, tampabay.com, Bradenton man's unlikely catch under Sunshine Skyway bridge is a lifesaver, By Kim Wilmath, Times Staff Writer,
Steve Burkholder was fishing under the Sunshine Skyway bridge with two of his nephews when he heard someone scream from above: "No!"
He looked up and saw a man hurtling nearly 200 feet into the water, causing a 15-foot splash.
The fisherman lifted anchor and steered his boat to the man, who was face-up in "a dead man's float." His eyes were closed, his skin purple and swollen. His shoes were floating nearby. Blood pooled in the water around him.
Burkholder and one of his nephews pulled the man aboard his 181/2-foot boat while the other nephew called the Coast Guard.
Burkholder began CPR and listened for a heartbeat.
He felt for a pulse.
He and his nephews began to pray.
About 30 seconds later, the man began to sputter and wheeze.
"You know, God uses pretty much anybody," Burkholder said. "I don't know why he chose me."
The sky was dark over Warner West Bayou in Manatee County the morning of July 17. Burkholder, 48, was preparing for a day of fishing for grouper and snapper with his nephews Justin Saboley, 24, and Austin Saboley, 16.
The boat lights wouldn't work so he and his nephews decided to wait till sunrise.
Burkholder considers the delay a blessing.
They took to the water about 6:30 a.m. and headed for the rocks around the Skyway. But first Burkholder, as he always does, said a prayer "for safety and lots of fish."
Burkholder says he's no religious fanatic, but he prays a lot and tries to get to church every Sunday at the Bridge Church at Palma Sola Bay.
He owns a land-surveying business and calls himself a regular guy. When he's not working or fishing, he plays guitar. He drinks a beer now and then.
God didn't answer his prayer for lots of fish that morning. Not even a nibble.
Burkholder calls that a blessing, too.
Because on this particular day, with no bites and not much else to do, Burkholder steered the boat to the other side of the bridge.
It was almost 10 a.m. At that moment, about 200 feet above, a man was about to jump.
Matthew James Clark, 43, lives in Tampa, but hasn't left the intensive care unit of Bayfront Medical Center since that Friday morning. A week after he smashed into Tampa Bay, he was listed in extremely critical condition.
His brother, Dave, says the family is in no shape to talk. His mother, Kathy, says her son is coming along "as well as can be expected."
Burkholder discovered Clark's identity when he pulled out his wallet after realizing he was alive.
"I started calling him by his first name. I'll never forget his name."
Clark didn't say anything until rescuers loaded him onto a stretcher and secured his neck with a brace. He started yelling that he couldn't breathe, Burkholder said, remembering how wide the man's eyes were.
Burkholder and his nephews later ate sandwiches to calm their nerves, then decided to try fishing again.
They caught two plump jacks.
Burkholder's wife, Annette, calls him a hero. "Scripture says Jesus will make us fishers of men," Annette recalls telling her husband.
"I said, 'God literally made you a fisher of men.' "
The two met 23 years ago. Burkholder was in a motorcycle crash, and Annette came across the road to hold his head in her lap as he waited for the ambulance.
"Accidental things are good," she said.
The couple have three children Shawn, 24; Heather, 17; and Katie, 15. "They were really proud of their dad," she said.
So was his 16-year-old nephew, Austin: "I just realized how fragile life is and how easy it can be taken away.''
Burkholder has hardly slept since it happened. When he does, he goes back to the Skyway in dreams.
In real life, he has returned twice. He calls it his therapy. But he doesn't look up much toward the big bridge, so high that speeding trucks look like toys and the massive cables like flimsy twine. He's afraid of heights.
Burkholder checks in with Clark's family every few days. He wants to talk to him. He knows what he'll say: "Times are tough, but God's given you a second chance. He pulled you out of the water."
(many comments follow the article, many of which seem to argue god's involvement with mr. clark's jump survival. if there is one thing we've learned in life, is that it can be fun to argue religious nonsense with these delusional believers. we tend to express our disbelief and we know it does cause angst amongst the devout. so much so, during the history of this website, we have received a handful of death threats. all but one were written by angry self-righteous religious extremist ranters in the name of their god. the holy hypocrisy is astounding. the believers are free to believe in their modified over the centuries fictional stories and man made characters. however, it does get quickly annoying when it becomes the center of the conversation. "jesus said this", "god prevailed in that", "the holy spirit blah blah blah". ok, you believe, we get it. ever wonder why your less religious friends scatter when you start in on your endless blather? where was your god when this man jumped? was it starving thousands of kids to death every day? striking many with cruel disease? maybe off developing a new galaxy in the back forty of it's universe? maybe it was too busy worrying about homosexuals and fornicators. so mr. clark jumps and suddenly, in mid flight, this god character steps in to keep him alive and, as an added bonus, throws in a rescuer at the last moment. wonderful story! totally believable! one would think this divine creator and controller of all things could have possibly intervened while mr. clark was driving to the bridge, not upon impact with the water. we truly hope mr. clark recovers to a point his life can resume better than it apparently was before this god clown finally stepped in. mr. burkholder was in the right place at the right time. it was he that stepped in. the thanks go to him.
update: 08.03.09, apparently, your god was only kidding and decided to simply torture mr. clark for two weeks and then let him die anyway. in retrospect, god doesn't prevent terrible things because it either can't, it won't, it causes them, or it doesn't exist. those are 100% of all the possible options. more atheist blasphemy.)
08.03.09, tampabay.com, Man rescued by boater after jumping from the Sunshine Skyway dies, By Kim Wilmath, Times Staff Writer
The 43-year-old man who was rescued by a fisherman after jumping from the Sunshine Skyway last month died Sunday. Matthew James Clark, of [address withheld] in Tampa, had been at Bayfront Medical Center since Steve Burkholder of Bradenton pulled him onto his boat July 17. Burkholder said Clark was unconscious for several minutes while he performed CPR and prayed for the man with his two nephews.
Clark's family declined to comment, saying only that they were planning a funeral. Burkholder said the family told him Clark died of an aneurysm in his lung. comments follow the article. (thanks to L Ron Hubbub in Clearwater, FL.)
(your comments are welcome.)
07.27.09, Tim, Tarpon Springs, Fl., Stopping the car/truck before it gets
to the top of the bridge makes zero sense!! God however, has used this
event to allow matt to live therefore, giving him the chance at re birth
and one hell of a constant visual, physical and very real deterent for the
(funny funny god.)
07.30.09, katie, st.pete, usa, florida, This person that jumped off the brige i knew. he was a good person. I think the reson he did it is besauce he is losing his house and has really nothing. Im onley 11 my dad know this guy to there were good friends. I remember the day befor he went me and my dad were talking to him. Im so glad he did not die. He had a cat that his next store nabor id taking car of. he lived in unedin florida. and i have seen hi pick ford/truck about evey day i was at my dads house. I miss him alot and hope hes ok. you can contact me a [email address withheld]
08.03.09, Melissa R. S., facebook, what a hero, he should be rewarded but instead he'll be scarred for life b/c of such a selfish act....
thank you, jumpnews
07.13.09, zolter, largo, fl., (07.13.09, 9:51pm, female, used phones: no, didn't jump, taken away), 9:51pm FD dispatch. FHP made contact with while female about 100 feet in front of her minivan. North bound at top of bridge. Taken into custody at 10:02pm.
07.13.09, Daniel J., St. Petersburg, (07.13.09, 10:00pm), As I was paying respects to the man who jumped on the 5th of July, I was driving back up the Skyway to see a van pulled off on the side of the road. I keep driving to see someone walking up the bridge with a Road Ranger walking towards him. I then faintly watch him disappear. Unbelievable.
(any more info is welcome.)
|07.05.09: jumper, 6:45am, male, no
phones, hit rocks, died, body found same day
Judd Lee Langenhahn, 51
07.05.09, TH, Dunedin, (07.05.09, 06:45am, male, hit water), Pinellas County EMS system at 0645. Witness saw man at top of bridge sitting on edge of Southbound lane at very top. Witness then saw man fall into water. Maroon Van left at top of bridge. At 0654 07/05/2009, there are 12 units enroute to the skyway, including a Coast Guard Vessel, 3 County Marine Units, and Eckerd College. Godspeed the rescue personnel putting their lives on the line.
07.05.09, ouchie day, st. petersburg, fl., (07.05.09, 06:45am, male, used phones: no, hit rocks, died, body found), heard on scanner. passerby saw man exit vehicle at top of spam southbound and sit on ledge. then went over. st. pete fire marine units found him on rocks near waterline. confirmed death. not much else to report.
07.06.09, Tampa Tony, Tampa, (07.05.09, 6:30am, used phones: no, hit rocks, died, body found), one went off on 7/5/09 at around 0630 hours, hit the rocks
any more info is welcome.
|07.05.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 1 SKYWAY BG 0652 1130 4h38m|
tbo.com, St. Pete Beach bartender jumps to death from Skyway
TAMPA - A 51-year-old St. Pete Beach man jumped to his death Sunday morning from the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
Judd L. Langenhahn, who worked as a bartender at a restaurant, was seen jumping from the southbound span of the bridge about 6:53 p.m., according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner.
Langenhahn's van was found parked on the bridge but a search was delayed until it was towed from the scene because of severe weather in the area.
He is the fourth person to jump from the bridge in 2009. One person survived.
Relatives told investigators Langenhahn was suffering from severe depression, which prevented him from working, and had been talking about suicide.
A mass will be held at St. John's Vianney Catholic Church, 445 82nd Ave., St. Pete Beach, at 11 a.m. Friday, and a celebration of life will be held at the Holiday Inn Sunspree, 6800 Sunshine Lane, St. Petersburg, at 4 p.m. Saturday. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the SPCA Tampa Bay.
07.06.09, God Bless, St. Petersburg, FL., (07.05.09, 6:45am, male, used phones: no, hit rocks, died), God bless the fallen. His name was Judd, I've known him for over 18 years. He used to work at the Bar on the beach at Holiday Inn near the jumpsite (which he looked at the Skyway everyday). [personal info edited out] Never leave a depressed individual alone, they will find a way out.
(sorry you lost your friend.)
06.26.12, Pearl, Clearwater, I listened to Splash today and cried several times. I cried because I can understand that depth of depression. I have struggled with depression all my life. I also knew Judd slightly that jumped in 2009. He worked at the bar at the Sunspree with it's scenic view of the Skyway Bridge. How ironic that was, is? I found out after his death Judd had struggled with depression a good deal of his life. I can relate. I often wonder what made him finally do it. I didn't know him well enough to know. But when I hear the man in Splash, Hanns, and his sadness over his mother and sister seeing him in the hospital, it broke my heart. It is very difficult to get help when you are at the depth of despair. I am glad Hanns got past his demons and is happy in his life. I really wish Judd had.
07.17.12, deborah l., london, england, this man was a legend in his lifetime. A great guy a giant. My children's lives were better for him giving his time and knowledge to them. Most of all his great love of life and people around him. So un selfish. My whole family talk of him and miss him to this day. My children dwell quietly to themselves i know. Just wish we could have been as good as friends to him when we could have. We all miss you more than you know judd x
|07.04.09: possible jumper|
07.04.09, big dawg, bradenton, fl., (07.04.09, 11:00am), as i was goin to st pete this mornin a car was stopped at the top with drivers door open. as i passed i looked and saw what looked like a middle aged man lookin over the side, then i noticed an undercover suv in my rearview pullin into emergency lane. the person looked at the suv and thats when they dropped outa sight. if anyone knows what happened let me know, kinda curious.
any more info is welcome.
|06.13.09: possible jumpers|
06.13.09, anon, Parrish, fl., (06.13.09, 12:15pm, used phones), We were driving northbound on the skyway and there were two jumpers, both on the southbound side, one on the incline, one on the decline. Cops and firetrucks were on the incline side and it appeared the attempted jumper used the crisis phone. While all that was going on we first saw the "decline" jumper and called 911, the emergency workers could not see the jumper on the other side so I don't know if they got to him/her but dispatch was aware and had units on the way. My fiance sees at least one jumper/attempted jumper a week on his work commute. I don't know the outcome of the one we saw first but the "incline" jumper appeared to be reached in time. It really stops you in your tracks and makes you think. I felt devastated after seeing these two people attempting to end thier lives and leaving all of these witnesses to wonder and even grieve for them not even knowing them. I can't imagine the pain and anguish the families and friends of these people go through and I pray to God I never will. GOD BE WITH THE VICTIMS LEFT IN MOURNING.
any more info is welcome.
|05.29.09: jumper, 5:40am, female, hit
water, died, body found same day
Arcadia Miriam Moyer, 19
05.29.09, Mark, Tampa, FL., (05.29.09, 5:45am), Coming south on 275 this AM I followed an ambulance with emergency lights on that got off at the North Skyway Pier. At the top of the bridge on the north bound side there was what looked like a silver Hyundai stopped at the center span with a FHP behind it. On the other end of the bridge there was a SPFD truck that had turned around going back north with emergency lights on.
05.29.09, anon, I believe we have another jumper today May29th, 2009. Little silver car at the top, no passenger, cops everywhere....Huumm One can only assume that today was the last straw for someone. My husband spotted all the commotion this morning on his way into work. North bound lane. Permanent solution to a temporary situation!
05.29.09, Paul, Sarasota, FL., (05.29.09, 5:40am, female, hit water, died, body found same day), WWBA 820 Radio was reporting that a woman's body was fished out of the water and that she had jumped from the Skyway.
05.29.09, kaitlyn, palmetto, fl., (05.29.09, 7:15am), I don't know if this is relevant in any way, but I wanted to share. I was doing my daily commute this morning and reached the very top of the Skyway Bridge. Heading northbound, there was a small gray car off in the right median. The windshield wipers were on and going fast, even though there was no rain. There was one police officer there. His lights were on and he was sitting in the car. When I drove past the gray car, it seemed to be abandoned. The passenger door was slighty open. I immediately knew it was a jumper, but I was surprised not to see more police activity. As I was coming down the other side of the bridge, I did see a Coast Guard helicopter approaching. (usually when a jumper jumps, there isn't much left to do on the bridge, as all the activity is now down below. we often wonder why sometimes there are far too many first responders on the bridge, tying up traffic, when there is only one abandoned car. one or two troopers and a tow truck should about cover it.)
any more info is welcome.
Hillsborough Sheriff, Victim: Arcadia Miriam Moyer, dob:
[address withheld], Female, approximately 20
years of age, Suicide, May 29, 2009 at approximately 5:42 a.m., Sunshine
Skyway Bridge, This morning at approximately 5:42 a.m. Florida Highway
Patrol discovered an abandoned 2003 Hyundai on the center span of the
Skyway Bridge. Coast Guard responded along with Sheriffs Office
helicopter and the body of a female was recovered by the Coast Guard at
approximately 7:31 a.m.
05.29.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, DEAD PERSON 2501 1SKYWAY BG 0542 1101 5h19m
tbo.com, Woman's body found after jump from Sunshine Skyway
TAMPA - A woman jumped off the Sunshine Skyway this morning, and her body was later recovered in the water, St. Petersburg fire officials said.
According to video of the incident and witness accounts, the woman drove her 2003 Hyundai to the apex of the bridge, got out and jumped about 5:40 a.m., said Lt. Joel Granata, spokesman for St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted her body, and it was recovered four miles from the bridge about 7:30 a.m., Granata said.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, whose jurisdiction includes the segment of the bridge from which the woman leapt, is investigating.
05.29.09, tampabay.com, Coast Guard recovers body of woman who jumped from Sunshine Skyway this morning, UPDATE
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has identified the woman as Arcadia Miriam Moyer, 19, of St. Petersburg.
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Coast Guard has recovered the body of an unidentified woman who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway early this morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office and St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.
Coast Guard helicopters found the body of an unidentified five-ft 2-in. woman floating in the water about four miles from the bridge at 7:28 a.m., nearly two hours after the first reports of a suspicious vehicle at the top of the bridge.
"I know there was a strong current and plus it was night. It hampered their search," said Lt. Joel Granata, spokesman for St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. "Time is of the essence."
A marine unit from St. Petersburg Fire Rescue recovered the body and took it to the nearby O'Neill's Marina.
Officials checked the vehicle abandoned at the top of the bridge and found the woman's personal effects, including her driver license and wallet.
This is the second time this month someone jumped from the 5.5 mile long Skyway bridge.
On May 4, a 41-year old Bradenton woman jumped 200 feet and survived but suffered life-threatening injuries.
According to jumperpool.com there have been two suicides, four possibles, two saves and one survivor from the Skyway this year.
Earlier this year, the St. Petersburg Times reported on the growing number of suicides and people calling suicide hotlines.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported more suicides were attempted in 2008 than in any year since 2000. That year, 29 people threatened to jump off the bridge, nine were fatal. In 2007, 18 people made attempts to jump.
In 1999, six red crisis phones were installed connecting users to a suicide hotline.
Call 911 or 211 to reach the nearest crisis center or toll-free, 1-800-273-8255, to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
In 2001, Florida Department of Transportation spent nearly $1-million installing 17 surveillance cameras along the bridge. - Brant James, Jared Leone, Times staff writer.
comments follow article. like this one:
chi_tino, Friday, May 29, 2009 at 12:09 PM, I think it's awesome that the St Pete Times, the authority on local news, is referencing jumperpool.com as a source for their data. Splat!
memorial video: download/play obituary mydeathspace.com
05.29.09, tbo.com reader comments:
bookishbabe_88, 10:52am, I have lived in Southern Hillsborough Co. my whole life, my dad worked on the new Skyway bridge in the 80's so I'm familiar with the awful things that have gone on there. But nothing compares to driving into work on this Friday morning, and seeing an abandoned car with a patrol car behind it at the apex of the bridge, and knowing in your gut that someone chose to take their life by jumping off the bridge. It truly sent a chill down my spine to think that a person stood there just hours earlier and made that decision. It makes me sick to think of it and I feel awful for the families and loved ones that these selfish people have left behind. What is even worse is that I have only been making the commute over the Skyway for a little over a month and this is the second person, and the second woman, to jump. That alone is a frightening statistic.
macysrocks, 12:15 pm, I too traveled the Skyway this morning and was upset to see an abandoned car with a patrol car behind it. It's hard to imagine what problems the woman was facing that her only solution was to end her life.
05.29.09, A dear Friend who cries, Fl., I knew the "jumper" I won't mention her name out of our friendship. She was a beautiful sweet 19 year old girl who had a very very had life. We tried to help. She was so sweet and kind to everyone. But everyone in her life was not kind to her. She did not deserve the life she had. Unfortunately she did this. We love her. We miss her. She was not selfish she was hurting. A beautiful soul in a heartless situation. We did what we could but she was just too young and did not reach out for anyone this time. I hope she is in God's hands. We will miss you baby. You will always be in our hearts.
05.29.09, anon, Bradenton, FL., I too, drive over the bridge daily and saw the abandoned silver car at the top of the bridge with two police cars behind it. I make the commute 4 days/week and it makes me so sad when I see abandoned cars. To think that someone chooses to jump off the bridge to end their life... and to also hear how painful it is in the process... no thanks. Don't hurt your families... think of someone other than yourself and think twice... if you're faced with the decision just wait another day or talk to someone. So sad!
05.30.09, A friend, The jumper was a very dear friend of mine. I will not use her name out of respect for the family. She was a beautiful 19 yo girl who had a life she didn't deserve. We tried to help. But I guess it was just too much for her. She was a very giving and loving person. She never hurt anyone but I can't say that about the people she was around. Her smile was the best. She will be dearly missed and in our hearts forever. We love you "C" I wish you would have called. I would have been there no matter what. BTW, it wasn't a selfish decision, she was truely troubled. I feel sad. Please pray for the family.
05.30.09, Brandie, Bradenton, Fl., I just want to say that some of you have no idea how it feels to get to that point in your life that you feel there is just no other option but to take your own life. The young woman who jumped yesterday morning was a beautiful girl with a promising future but an easy life she did not have. And her personal life was troubled. It is very sad that this time she felt she could not reach out for help, and it is very sad that anyone here could consider her selfish when you do not know her pain. There is no greater pain then the pain one suffers when they feel they have run out of options. I weep not only for her family but I weep for this beautiful soul that some of you have critisized for her exetreme desire to be pain free. She did not deserve judgement she deserved your condolences and prayers. God Bless you "C" and may you now rest in peace and harmony and be pain free.
07.27.09, Ed, St.Pete, Hello: I'm in shock disbelief of how many people are jumping from that bridge. And we never hear about it. All those souls are very sad to think about. However; when a kid like Arcadia Miriam Moyer ends her life, it's really bad. Is there anymore info about the facts leading up to the jump? Nine-teen yrs. old! I have a bird that's 20! (we've been across that bridge many times. there is no way we could imagine stepping off of it. who knows what drives a person to do so? what hell is created within one's mind that forces them to end their own life like this at 19? luckily, most of us will never live that hell.)
12.06.11, Stephan M. R., facebook, Wow! You guys are sad. I have a f**ked up sense of humor...and I have to admit. before my 19 year old step daughter killed herself at the skyway, I may have thought your comments were cynical but not really funny. More of a vague attempt at humor. The sad thing is how you treat it as some positive quality to make yourselves feel better about bragging, almost paying yourselves on the back for being so heartless. I would, in most cases, never wish that tragedy upon anyone and I will not in this case allow your ignorance to change my mind in this situation but please don't confuse sarcasm with stupidity. (we re-read the former facebook thread, trying to see where we are making fun of people jumping off the bridge and didn't see it. we did state the truth about the possibility of becoming a human vegetable if you manage to survive the jump. obviously, you have a personal relationship with this bridge suicidal, so we imagine any mention of suicide, bridge, sarcasm, and such in the same conversation, is seen as "not really funny...as some positive quality to make yourselves feel better" and stupid. we're sorry your 19 year old step daughter did that to you and your family. she caused tragic change in your family. change that will effect the family forever after. by your very words, your outlook on this sort of discussion has been altered, so perhaps any discussion that does not strictly involve words of compassion and solace would be seen as "heartless". we are not here to allow our ignorance to change your mind in this situation, nor are we here to put forth endless 'hallmark card' worthy dialog. we are here to discuss, in our own perhaps twisted way, the past, present, and future of people that choose to jump off the skyway bridge.)
|05.22.09: article Deadly jumps are darker side of Sunshine Skyway bridge|
005.22.09, tbo.com, Suicides at the Sunshine Skyway bridge have fueled a morbid
fascination that has given rise to a new documentary and an irreverent website. By BAIRD HELGESON | The Tampa Tribune
ST. PETERSBURG - The Sunshine Skyway bridge rises gracefully over the water and returns gently to the land, a majestic concrete arch held aloft with golden rays of steel.
Travel magazines and car commercials feature Tampa Bay's breathtaking gateway.
But the span is also one of the region's deadliest stretches of road because of suicides, not traffic crashes.
More people come here to end their lives than anywhere in Florida, fueling a morbid fascination that has given rise to a new documentary and an irreverent website. (what? irreverent? us? no!)
Steven Picciuto leaped in September, ending a life tangled in addiction and depression.
"He always talked about jumping off that bridge," said his former wife, Alyson.
At least 135 people have jumped from the Sunshine Skyway since the existing bridge opened in 1987. Only three bridges are known to top that: the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Aurora Bridge in Seattle and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
About nine people a year jumped from the Sunshine Skyway in the past 10 years, according to data compiled by The Tampa Tribune. Nearly all of them died. As few as four people jumped in 2004, as many as 13 in 1999.
Two people have jumped this year. One died; one survived.
Often, those who choose suicide don't think about the questions and heartache they will leave behind, experts say. People who choose jumping to end their lives are often self-centered and possess a sense of grandeur.
"You are on stage," said Jerald Ratner, a forensic psychiatrist from Cape Coral. "It symbolizes a glorification of suicide. It's an act you want people to notice."
People who jump often imagine an end that is certain, instant and painless. They usually step off the Skyway during the day. They seldom leave a note.
But if they're seeking to wrap themselves in the majesty of the landmark, in a cathartic collision of body and water, in a warm entry to the afterlife, they may face a painful disappointment.
Only the lucky ones die quickly.
Taking preventive measures
The Sunshine Skyway is Florida's highest span, carrying an average of 51,000 vehicles a day nearly 200 feet above the water or two-thirds the length of a football field as it links the north and south sides of Tampa Bay.
The new bridge was built after a freighter slammed into a support on the old bridge 29 years ago this month, sending cars and a bus plunging into the shipping channel below. Thirty-five people died.
It was no secret the old bridge was attractive to people bent on suicide. Fifty-five jumped from it between 1958 and 1986, according to Tribune data.
Former Gov. Bob Graham was instrumental in getting the new bridge designed and built. The goal was to make it safer for motorists and maritime vessels, he said.
Graham was not surprised suicides continued when the new bridge opened in April 1987.
"Tall structures including bridges have been an attraction for people in the most extreme mental condition, so it is tragic but not unexpected that the Sunshine Skyway has seen its share of suicides," he said in an e-mail interview.
In 1999, Gov. Jeb Bush asked the state Department of Transportation to consider walls or netting to help prevent people from jumping.
Possible fixes proved unrealistic because of wind resistance and the multimillion-dollar price tag. The nets also raised concerns about entangling rare birds.
Instead, the state opted for round-the-clock patrols and six solar-powered phones wired to a crisis hot line. A special ring alerts counselors to the urgency.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has documented 23 calls from the phones on the bridge since 1999. Every caller was persuaded not to jump, said Jennifer Durgee, a crisis center spokeswoman.
The Sunshine Skyway has no pedestrian walkway or wide area at the top to pull over. A motorist pays a dollar at a toll plaza to drive over the bridge, and to stop safely, must pull into a hazard lane barely wider than a pickup.
A remote video camera would likely catch the illegal stop. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper along the five-mile span would head to the spot, usually arriving within minutes. The Florida Department of Transportation monitors the cameras.
But if no one intervenes in time and the motorist jumps to his death, a quirk in political boundaries creates a logistical issue.
The bridge connects St. Petersburg in Pinellas County and Terra Ceia in Manatee County. The top of the span, however, is in a watery finger of Hillsborough County.
Hillsborough law enforcement and medical examiner's staff are called to investigate most suicides, those where a witness sees the leap from the top of the span.
If there are no witnesses and the body surfaces in Pinellas County, Pinellas takes on the investigation and autopsy. If the body is found in Manatee, authorities there handle it.
Most bodies are recovered.
A documentary, website
Sean Michael Davis was on the bridge hauling a load of furniture to his new home on Snead Island in Palmetto when he saw someone leap from the bridge last year.
His truck crested the span in time to see a human form vanish from the edge of the bridge.
"I couldn't do anything," said Davis, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who also works with Fox TV's "Cops."
He pulled over and called 911.
It had never occurred to him that the bridge might be a prominent place for people to end their lives.
He read what he could find about the bridge and suicides, and decided to make a documentary. He is nearly finished filming. His goal is to prevent suicides. (the documentary has been completed and can be viewed here.)
"I need to show people the pain and the humiliation for their family and loved ones, the mass of human emotion," Davis said.
His research took him to JumperPool.com, a website where visitors are greeted by the sound of a splash. The home page warns of "politically incorrect" material.
Inside the site, visitors find a list of incidents, grisly details from medical examiner reports and the feature that gives the site its name: a chance to guess when the next person will jump. Bonus questions include gender and how long it will take to recover the body.
There is also a forum for comments. For 10 years, the forum has drawn angry critics, some of whom identify themselves as victims' relatives, but also people talking openly about the pain of suicide's aftermath.
One horrific account comes from a man who said he was fishing beneath the Skyway when he saw someone smash into the water 20 yards from his boat. Slowed by anchor problems, the fisherman said, it took him several minutes to reach the spot.
He said he felt guilty he couldn't save the person.
JumperPool.com visitors left messages urging him not to feel responsible.
The founder of the site declined in an e-mail to be interviewed on the record or to identify himself. He said his motive is to spook would-be jumpers by showing the ghastly way in which people die and the devastation inflicted on the loved ones they leave behind. (twice in the past, the print press has twisted our words into sentences of fiction. we understand they generally do not like this site and only desire to shed a harsh light upon us, so we tend to avoid any more of that.)
Similarities and differences
Fifty percent more people die by suicide than by homicide nationwide, a couple thousand of them each year in Florida.
According to the Florida Suicide Prevention Coalition, 2,570 Floridians killed themselves in 2007.
Those who choose the Sunshine Skyway are overwhelmingly male and white, generally in their 30s and early 40s.
Distinctions fade from there. Those who jump include professionals and the unemployed, people who are married, single, rich and poor.
In 1993, a 15-year-old boy and his 16-year-old girlfriend made a suicide pact. They took a cab to the top of the bridge, used lipstick to scrawl a message on the concrete and jumped.
Within the past year, a 22-year-old student from Sarasota jumped, reportedly angry that his girlfriend had cheated on him.
The most recent victim, a 91-year-old Tampa man, was depressed about his declining health.
Those who jump often leave hints of their troubles in the cars they leave parked antidepressants, phone numbers of mental health professionals, cell phones with unread text messages from loved ones.
Once they leap, the next few seconds are sheer acceleration.
Bodies are mangled. Clothes are often ripped off. Skulls are smashed. Bones are crushed. Teeth shattered. The impact of hitting the water at 75 mph causes organs to rip loose, butchered in the rib cage.
The impact after falling nearly 200 feet is like hitting concrete.
For some, though, hitting the water only begins the dying process. They perish from drowning, according to medical examiner records.
Witnesses who have tried to resuscitate jumpers described compressing a chest that gave way like a wet pillow.
Occasionally, someone survives.
Dean Konstantinovic leaped in 1993, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He died last year from pneumonia 15 years after the jump.
The ripples from Picciuto's jump haven't stopped spreading.
Picciuto, 32, pulled his car into the hazard lane of the bridge about lunchtime one day in September.
Traffic whooshed by. A diary sat by his side.
He stepped from the car and went over the barrier.
He and his wife, Alyson, had been separated about two years.
His addiction to alcohol and drugs had wrung out the last of her patience.
They talked often, and he remained a doting father to their two children.
"His pain is over, but our pain has just started," Alyson said.
"It's like breaking a glass, with a million pieces going everywhere. You can never pick up all the pieces, all the shards."
Editor's note: The names of suicide victims included in this story are used with the permission of their families.
|05.04.09: jumper, 2:08pm, female, hit
water, lived, found same day
Kathy Wilson (unconfirmed), 41
05.04.09, zolter, largo, fl., (05.04.09, 2:08pm, female, hit water, lived, body found), Appox 40 year old black female jumped from bridge. Left car (neon) on bridge (southbound). Coast guard recovered female and heading to O'Neils. Patient alive and breathing with obvious leg fracture.
03.01.10, Family Friend, Bradenton, FL., Kathy Wilson (Maiden Name). Lives in Bradenton. 2 kids. History of depression. Alcohol user. Several weeks at Bayfront then home healthcare from jump. Will try to get current info on her status from family March 2010.
any more info and/or last name is welcome.
|05.04.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 1 SKYWAY BG 1418 1846 4h28m|
005.04.09, tampabay.com, Woman survives plunge off Skyway Bridge
ST. PETERSBURG -- A woman parked her car at the top of the Skyway Bridge this afternoon and jumped off, falling 197 feet into the waters of Tampa Bay below, according to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.
"Everyone said she just walked over and jumped," said Lt. Joel Granata. "There was no hesitation."
The unidentified 41-year-old Bradenton woman survived the plunge, authorities say, but suffered life-threatening injuries.
The incident took place around 2:07 p.m., according to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. The woman, whose identity was not released, was driving in the southbound lane when she stopped atop the bridge.
The woman jumped while a U.S. Coast Guard vessel and helicopter were training nearby, according to the agency.
Within minutes, the woman was taken out of the water by a nearby watercraft and taken to a nearby 41-foot Coast Guard utility boat.
The HH-60 Coast Guard helicopter the boat was training with lowered its rescue swimmer, a trained paramedic, to the deck to help treat the injured woman.
Then the Coast Guard vessel brought her to O'Neill's Marina at 6701 34th St. S, where she was taken to Bayfront Medical Center. -- Jamal Thalji, Times staff writer
|02.25.09: possible jumper|
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 1 SKYWAY BG 1528
any more info is welcome.
02.24.09: save, woman gets angry she isn't allowed to jump.
tthank you, jumpnews
02.24.09, zolter, Largo, FL., (02.24.09, 8:30pm, female, used phones: no, didn't jump, taken away), Pinellas County Fire Rescue dispatched at 8:30pm. Initial reports from cell caller of black vehicle at base of bridge and female walking up the bridge. First responding unit confirmed presence of the vehicle. They located female straddling the wall. She was restrained and prevented from jumping at 8:39pm.
02.25.09, gkwckw, St Petersburg, (02.24.09, 8:20pm, female, didn't jump, taken away), My g/f and I were headed Southbound in our RV when we passed this female about 50ft from her black Monte Carlo, just as the bridge starts to sweep upward to the spans. Unfortunately, we had left our cell phones at home since this was going to be a brief ride. Otherwise, we would have called it in. On the other side of the spans after the bridge came off the incline, a FL Trooper was parked assisting(or writing a ticket) so we stopped and notified him. Kudos to him-he was on the radio and off to the scene within seconds. We passed 25 minutes later going N bound and the "jumper" was restrained. What is strange, this f jumper parked at the base of the span and was walking all that distance to the top. Gave plenty of time for people to see her.
any more info is welcome.
tampabay.com, Firefighters pull woman off edge of Skyway Bridge
ST. PETERSBURG -- Firefighters stopped a suicide attempt on the Skyway Bridge tonight by pulling a woman off the edge before she had the chance to jump off. But the woman was far from grateful to her rescuers -- she put up a fight. "She was angry she didn't get to jump," said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata.
The call came in at 8:30 p.m. Drivers headed southbound on the Skyway Bridge reported seeing a woman park her car off to the side and then walk onto the span, climbing toward the top.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue launched a boat and dispatched firefighters to the bridge. Six minutes later, they found the unidentified woman was already 2/3rds of the way up to the top.
The woman was straddling the retaining wall on the bridge's edge, one leg hanging over the water below.
"If she jumped," Granata said, "she would have died."
Paramedics Deal Farrell and Dave Kirby tried to talk the woman off the edge. Kirby was especially suited for this mission. As a SWAT medic, it's his job to render aid to the police department's SWAT team when it goes into action and is trained to try talk people out of these situations.
But the woman wouldn't listen to the paramedics, Granata said, and instead just argued with them.
But the paramedics still managed to distract the woman long enough so they could grab her right arm.
"Another few minutes and she was going over," said Lt. Jake Nyhart, who witnessed the rescue.
Then the paramedics pulled her off the edge. But the woman fought the paramedics, and they had to keep her restrained on the ground until the Florida Highway Patrol arrived.
The woman was taken into protective custody and transported by ambulance to Suncoast Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. - Jamal Thalji, Times staff writer
|open request to this person: care to tell your story?|
|02.06.09: possible jumper, 1:00pm|
02.06.09, Bob, Bradenton, FL., (02.06.09, 1:00pm), Abandoned van at the top of the bridge
any more info is welcome.
|01.14.09: jumper, 1:25pm, male, hit
water, died, body found same day
Gerald Eckstein, 91
01.14.09, zolter, Largo, FL., (01.14.09, 1:25pm, male, used phones: no, hit water, died, body found), FHP and Fire Rescue dispatched at 1:26pm. "Older" male seen sitting on the wall. Male was witnessed falling of the wall of the southbound lanes. Empty vehicle left on bridge. Body recovered rapidly (approx 1:40pm) by Manatee County Fire Rescue Marine Unit. Body brought to O'Neills Marina at 2:02pm. Confirmed deceased.
any more info is welcome.
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 2501 1SKYWAY BG
Hillsborough Sheriff, Victim: Gerald Eckstein, 91, dob: 09-24-17, Deputies responded to the Skyway Bridge this morning at approximately 2:20 p.m. in reference to a possible suicide called in by the Florida Highway Patrol. A body was recovered and turned over to the Medical Examiners Office. The victims vehicle was discovered parked on top of the Skyway Bridge.
01.08.09: save, male
thank you, jumpnews
01.08.09, Zolter, largo, fl., (01.08.09, 5:54pm, male, used phones: no, was stopped from jumping, taken away), White male blue jacket on top of bridge. Subject arrested by law enforcement at 6:04pm.
01.08.09, Susan, Palmetto, (01.08.09, 5:45pm, male, was stopped from jumping, taken away), I was driving Southbound on the bridge tonight around 5:45. A young man was standing on the wall near the top of the bridge. I knew something was wrong. I pulled over and called 911. As I was getting 911 on the phone, another woman pulled over with me. As we started to get closer to the young man, he started to sit down. Once he got in a sitting postion, he started leaning forward. Traffic was stopping at that point. I looked at people around and just ask for help. Three or four guys got out of their vehicles. Someone grabbed hold of the back of his jacket and pulled him down. It was wonderful to see him safe. There was a crowd of about six or seven people around him by then. He was angry, stating that people (society) was stepping on him. He said they were going to put him away for 36 hours. He was saying that they were going to take his truck. Traffic was backed up at that point so it took a while for the policeman to arrive. I left at this point as he was safe and going to be taken care of.
The strange thing is is that my boss committed suicide off that bridge the week before Christmas. Not sure why God put me in this position. I have never seen anyone die before and glad that I was there to stop this guy. I hope that he gets the help that he needs and will never try this again.
(also thanks to Karen in Parrish. any more info is welcome.)
|01.08.09, Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 1 SKYWAY BG 1757 1759|
|open request to this person: care to tell your story?|
|01.08.09: possible jumper|
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 1 SKYWAY BG 1229 1636 4h7m
(these long investigations are curious. four hours? something must have been going on.)
any more info is welcome.
|01.08.09: possible jumper|
Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 1 SKYWAY BG 1007 1111
any more info is welcome.
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