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1988 - 1992 jump eventsupdated: 11.09.15
|10.27.92: save, male
George Ford, 35
|07.04.92: jumper hanger, male, died
Charles James Deering, 24
| 07.05.92, St. Petersburg Times, Man hangs himself from Sunshine Skyway bridge
A 24-year-old man committed suicide Saturday by hanging himself from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, authorities said.
Charles James Deering, of [address withheld], in Sarasota, drove north onto the bridge at 9 a.m. Saturday, Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.
When his blue Chevrolet pickup reached the middle of the bridge, Deering pulled over and got out, Carter said.
Dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers, he attached a nylon rope to the back bumper of his truck, tied the other end around his neck, then jumped, Carter said.
About 20 boats gathered under the bridge, and motorists on the bridge slowed or stopped.
Workers from Pinellas County Fire and Rescue, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the state Highway Patrol lined the bridge, while boats from the U.S. Coast Guard and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office stood by.
By noon, rescue workers were able to lower the body into the sheriff's boat below.
A video camera, owned by Manatee County, constantly films activities on the bridge for security reasons, Carter said. The man's jump likely will be captured on film, she said.
No note was found, said Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputy J.T. Robinson.
Deering, who was married, was a carpenter, Carter said.
Jumping from the Sunshine Skyway bridge is not unheard of, she said. But in her six-year tenure at the sheriff's office, Carter said there had never been a hanging from the bridge.
07.06.92: full article
08.30.92, St. Petersburg Times, My life is a whirl
On Saturday morning, the Fourth of July, Regina Wilson was sitting alone in the tollbooth surveillance room, working on her second cup of coffee. Her job is to monitor the 13 remote-control cameras that keep an eye on the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
She watches for accidents and breakdowns, anything that would disrupt traffic. It's not the most exciting job in the world.
Traffic was light at 9 o'clock, but Wilson knew from four years on the job that by midafternoon, the bridge would be jammed with cars and campers headed to Pass-a-Grille or Fort De Soto Park or one of the dozens of other beaches up and down the coast.
People were sleeping in, she thought. It's a holiday.
At two minutes after 9, Wilson noticed something on one of her screens. A pickup truck heading north had pulled into the emergency lane at the very top of the bridge. She watched as someone - she couldn't tell whether it was a man or a woman - walked in front of the truck.
Engine trouble probably. Or another tourist. Even though several signs warn people not to stop on the bridge, the view from 192 feet above Tampa Bay is too much of a temptation. They pull over, and out come the Instamatics.
Wilson started to train one of the cameras on the pickup. If the person didn't get back on the road soon, she'd have to alert the Florida Highway Patrol.
But the phone rang. She looked away from her screen and picked up the receiver. It was a woman at Emergency Call Box 6, a few hundred yards down the road from the hump.
"She was frantic," Wilson recalled a few days later. "She said there was a man standing on top of the bridge with a rope around his neck."
This was no time to panic. She thanked the woman and quickly punched up the FHP on her direct line.
"But when I went back to the screen, he was gone.
"I brought my camera in and I could see him hanging over the side of the bridge. I thought to myself, `Oh, my God. He must have gone right up there, and he just did it.' "
The only thing she could think of was to call her supervisor.
"But it was too late; we couldn't do anything," she said, her voice trailing off. "And that's what makes you feel so bad.
"I've seen serious car accidents with fatalities," she added, "but never anything like this.
"There just wasn't anything anybody could've done."
Several cars stopped and people got out and leaned over the side to get a better look. But within minutes, police and rescue units from three counties and the Highway Patrol had arrived. They sent the curious on their way and tried to figure how to get the man down.
Police found no suicide note in the pickup, only an empty box lying on the front seat. It had come from a hardware store and had contained a 25-foot nylon Mooring and Dock line.
Because of high winds on the bridge, it took a St. Petersburg Fire Rescue unit more than two hours to attach another rope to the Mooring and Dock line and lower Charles Deering Jr.'s body into a boat.
No one knows what was in Chuck Deering's mind that morning or why he chose to carry out such a calculated, desperate act in such a public place. All anyone knows for sure is how he spent the last hour of his life.
About 8 a.m., Chuck, a 24-year-old landscaper and father of a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, left his apartment in Sarasota. A friend spoke to him briefly and remembers that he was angry over the recent breakup of his marriage.
He got in his 1983 blue Chevy S-10 pickup. He was wearing a light green T-shirt, denim shorts and white high-top sneakers. The 38-mile drive to the Skyway took him about 45 minutes - a long time to think.
He paid the $1 toll and drove onto the bridge. At the center of the span, just past the sign that reads No Stopping Or Standing On Bridge, he pulled over.
He left the keys in the ignition, got out and walked to the back of the truck. He tied one end of the 25-foot Mooring and Dock line to the rear bumper. He tied the other end around his neck.
The rope secure, he walked a few feet to the 4-foot cement retaining wall and hoisted himself up.
In front of him, on the eastern horizon, were the waters of Tampa Bay and the rising summer sun. Thunder clouds were forming far in the distance. The breeze was strong and warm.
Several cars passed behind him, including one that would stop at Emergency Call Box 6.
It was too late.
Chuck Deering was the 60th person to jump off the Skyway bridge - and the first to hang himself.
He died instantly from a broken neck.
Linda Deering is sitting in the living room of her Port Charlotte duplex. Snapshots of her son are spread out across the coffee table. In the middle is a pink Mother's Day card. It has a picture of flowers on it and a lace border. Inside, the card is signed:
For my Wonderful Mom.
Chuck and family.
Linda is looking at the pictures and wringing her hands. Also in the room is Chuck's 15-year-old brother, Raymond, and his stepfather, Frank Pugh.
Linda doesn't know where to start.
She says Chuck was born in McHenry, Ill. The family moved to Sarasota in 1970. At the time, her husband, Charles Deering Sr., was a sergeant serving in Vietnam.
Chuck was a happy, likable boy - active in the 4-H Club, a strong swimmer and a promising first baseman on a Little League baseball team.
The Deerings were divorced in 1981, when Chuck was 14. Linda had to raise Chuck and Raymond alone. It wasn't easy, but she managed.
At 16, Chuck quit school and went to work fulltime as a cook at a fast-food restaurant in Venice. At the end of each week, he gave his mother his paycheck.
Three years later, he started laying block for a construction company. He was making enough money to buy a motorcycle, but Linda laid down the law.
"I told him as long as he lived here, he couldn't have a motorcycle. I told him I hated them, that I almost lost my leg on one.
"He said, `Well, Mom, I'm just going to have to go out on my own.' I didn't want him to go, but he was 20. It was about time."
In 1987, on one of the lonely back roads off U.S. 41 in Port Charlotte, Chuck ran a stop sign and was hit by a car. He was in a coma for 17 hours, and his left leg and foot were badly mangled. It took six operations to save his leg.
He couldn't go back to construction work, so he got a job as a landscaper at Island Reef Condominiums on Siesta Key.
At about that time, he met Cindy Gray. He was 21, she was 20.
They got married in 1989 and moved in with Cindy's parents in Sarasota. About a year later, they had a daughter, Danielle.
From all accounts, they were a typical young family trying to raise a child, keep the in-laws happy and scrape together the money to buy their first house.
And then things started to change.
It was in April or May, Linda Deering said, that Chuck stopped taking Raymond fishing. Then he stopped calling Linda at work. She doesn't have a home phone, so he had kept in touch through the drugstore in Venice where she works as a sales clerk.
When Chuck called Thursday morning, July 2, Linda was excited to hear from him again. But he had never sounded so upset. He said the thing he valued most - his family - was falling apart.
"He was crying," Linda said. "He said Cindy took Danielle and left. I asked him why. He said she chose to go back home and she was going to go back to school."
Toward the end of the conversation, Chuck's mood changed. He told Linda he was "going to get even with everybody."
He wouldn't explain what he meant.
When he called her again on Friday morning, Linda told Chuck that he could come back home to live, but he said no.
"He slowly changed the subject and said, `Things are looking up, though,' " she remembered. He said he was meeting Cindy to talk about getting back together.
When Linda didn't hear from Chuck that weekend, she assumed the couple had done just that.
"I thought they were kissing and making up," she said.
It wasn't until Monday - two days after Chuck drove to the bridge - that Linda learned what really happened that weekend.
Steve Kreger looked up from the sprinkler he was adjusting at the Island Reef Condominiums, a sweeping, 10-acre complex on Siesta Key in Sarasota, and tried to come up with an answer.
Kreger, the condo manager, said Chuck took care of the pool and supervised the landscaping for the last three years. He had planted everything - the sea grapes and geraniums and pampas grass - and he was proud of his work.
Chuck got to work early and stayed late, all the condo owners liked him and he was always in a good mood.
"Except the last week or so," Kreger added.
"We never knew it had gotten so bad for him."
Apparently nobody knew.
In a shed at another part of the complex, Bob Hancox and Tim Winquisd were putting their edgers and trimmers away for the day. Tim had been fairly close to Chuck, but Bob had been one of his best friends. They had known each other since the 10th grade at Venice High School.
Tim and Bob said Chuck didn't use drugs, and if he drank, it was usually no more than a few beers. They said he was an honest, hard-working guy who loved rock 'n' roll, fishing and bowling every Thursday and Friday night at Galaxy Lanes.
And they said Chuck was fine until he began having marital problems.
"He talked earlier in the week about how he couldn't live without her," Tim said. "He talked about suicide, but he told me he wouldn't really do it."
They said they didn't take him seriously because Chuck had talked a lot about death after the motorcycle accident.
"You know how some people talk about being on the other side and how peaceful it is?" Tim asked. "Well, Chuck said that a couple of times. I guess he liked it better there."
They also said Chuck had a fascination with the Skyway bridge.
"He asked us a couple of times if we thought he could live if he jumped off," Tim said. "We'd ask him if he'd really do it, and he said no. We just kind of shrugged it off."
On Thursday night, July 2, Chuck tried to get Cindy back by pretending to commit suicide.
Cindy Deering would not talk to a reporter for this story. But according to her statements in a police report, she said Chuck told her he had taken sleeping pills.
"It was his last ploy, as he called it," Bob said.
But Chuck's plan began to unravel, according to the report, when he said he didn't want anyone to call an ambulance. The next day, he admitted to Cindy that his suicide attempt was a trick. He had actually flushed the pills down the toilet.
In the report, Cindy said that incident was the first time Chuck had mentioned suicide to her, and that she never thought he would kill himself.
When he went to work Friday morning, Chuck was unusually quiet. He told Bob the separation was final.
"He knew me and Tim were mad at him for doing something stupid," Bob said. "I told him they could put him away by the Baker Act for doing something like that."
Although Cindy and Danielle had moved out, Chuck continued to live in the four-bedroom apartment they shared with another couple, John and Cindy Kale.
"When Cindy left, Chuck just kept saying, `I can't believe this. I can't believe this is happening.' " Cindy Kale recalled.
When she knocked on Chuck's door Friday night to check on him, there was no answer. She assumed he was asleep.
In the morning, Cindy Kale heard Chuck leave the apartment. It was about 8 o'clock, the Fourth of July.
She caught up with him at his truck.
"He was real angry," Kale said. "I asked him, `Chuck, are you all right?'
"He said, `I'm fine. I have to go. Bye.'
"And he drove away."
Later that day, after police told them about the suicide, Tim and Cindy Kale went through Chuck's room.
They found a section of rope fashioned into a noose.
They also found a note wadded up and tossed behind one of his stereo speakers. They could only make out a few lines. One was, My life is a whirl.
The Sunshine Skyway with its stark, geometric beauty is a magnet of sorts, a beacon for the desperate.
Before Chuck Deering's suicide, 59 people had jumped off either the old or the new span since the bridge opened in 1954, according to Times records. Remarkably, nine of those 59 people survived, including a man who jumped off a lower section of the new span and wound up spending four days on a small island before he was rescued.
The highest point is 192 feet above the water. A fall from that height would result in an impact so great that it would likely kill a person or knock him unconscious, which would lead to drowning.
Since the new span opened in April 1987, eight people have leaped to their deaths. Another seven have been talked out of jumping by law enforcement or bridge officials. Among them was a 38-year-old Vietnam veteran who sat on the wall with a six-pack of beer for four hours before he came away from the edge. He said he was despondent that he couldn't visit his son, who was living with his ex-wife.
Then there was the 39-year-old man who was talked down with the promise of a cigarette. He had threatened to kill his wife and children and had led police on a high-speed chase. On another occasion, a state trooper and a Department of Transportation employee grabbed a man off the wall and pulled him to safety. He said he was upset over the loss of his girlfriend and his job.
Chuck Deering was young and in good health. He had a job he liked, he didn't abuse alcohol or drugs, he had no criminal record, and he wasn't deeply in debt.
And although his marriage was coming apart, many men and women go through similar emotional turmoil without becoming self-destructive.
His friends and co-workers, Bob and Tim, said Chuck had a reputation for not following through with what he said he would do. "I think because nobody thought he'd do it, he did it," Tim said.
They also said the motorcycle accident changed him. And in fact, those who emerge from a coma are often left with physical, emotional or developmental problems.
But Linda Deering thinks the accident had nothing to do with why Chuck took his life. She insists that losing his family is what killed him. "He died of a broken heart," she said.
And that, say mental health experts, is a very real possibility.
"Relationship breakups are significant because we use them as a support system, and when we lose that, we have nobody to turn to," said Dr. Dale Hicks, associate director of the University of South Florida's Counseling Center for Human Development. "In this case, the person was despondent. Depression is the most important warning signal. People tend to commit suicide when they don't see any alternatives. They feel hopeless.
"And when people are feeling depressed, it narrows their thinking. It impairs their ability to problem solve, so that they may not be able to recognize solutions."
Suicide is hardly a rare occurence. It crosses all cultural and economic boundaries. More than 30,000 people killed themselves in 1989, the latest year for which statistics are available. The true number of suicides is probably higher, experts say, because some deaths that are ruled accidental - a one-car crash, for instance, with no witnesses - are actually suicides.
Although women attempt or threaten suicide more than men, men are four times more likely to complete the act. And men age 20-24 (Deering was 24) have the highest suicide rate of any group under age 65.
Most people who attempt suicide give hints to the people around them. They may give away valued possessions or make statements such as, "I'd be better off dead."
"Almost anyone is capable of committing suicide under certain conditions," Hicks added. "But there are variables that help predict it - someone who abuses drugs or alcohol, someone with low self-esteem who comes from a dysfunctional family, someone who is not good at problem solving, someone who tends not to see things through, to quit and give up. Suicide is similar to giving up rather than working through something.
"Also, if we know someone has attempted suicide in the past or has a family history of suicide or emotional instability, that's another factor to consider."
Not everyone with these symptoms carries through on a suicide attempt, however.
"It's easy for the survivors to feel guilty afterward, but it's difficult at the time to know when to take action and when not to," Hicks explained. "And there is a limit to the responsibility a friend or a loved one can take."
One of the ways Floridians can take action is through the Baker Act. The law works like this: If a person thinks a friend or relative is a danger to himself or others, that person can petition a circuit court judge to have the friend or relative undergo psychiatric evaluation. Although the suspicion must be proved, if the judge agrees he can commit the subject to a mental health facility, usually for a minimum of 72 hours.
No one took that extreme step in Chuck Deering's case.
As for why Deering would choose such a public death - hanging himself from one of the most prominent landmarks in the state - Hicks could offer only this:
"Taking one's life is a significant event, and often people will chose a place or means that has significance to them.
"Or one that makes some kind of a statement."
On Monday morning, two days after her son's death 70 miles to the north, Linda Deering was going about life as usual.
Investigators had told Chuck's wife about the suicide, but no one had passed that word on to Linda.
She went to work at 9:30 just like always. Her co-workers seemed unusually quiet, but she shrugged it off.
An hour later, a police officer came in the store and asked whether they could talk privately. They went into a small storeroom in the back. He told her Chuck had been in an accident.
That's as far as he got.
"He didn't say it," Linda whispered, "but when he said that, I knew Chucky was dead."
She screamed and tried to run. Anywhere. It took two co-workers to hold her down.
The next thing Linda remembered was her husband, Frank, driving her to a pay phone. She had to call her sister, Georgine, who had helped raise Chuck. One of Georgine's first questions was how Chuck had died.
Linda suddenly realized she didn't know.
The answer was sealed in an envelope a co-worker had given Frank. She ripped it open. Inside was a newspaper account of Chuck's death. Her co-workers had seen the article but didn't know how to tell her.
Linda became hysterical. Frank had to push her into the car and drive her home.
"When we got home, Raymond (her younger son) wasn't here," Linda said, tears streaming down her face. "And I was like a lunatic. I couldn't find my Raymond. I'm up and down the street looking for him. Finally, I found him and I told him and we cried.
"I couldn't stay here. I kept driving all over the place. Driving and driving."
Late that night, when Linda went into Raymond's room to check on him, she found him asleep, hugging a picture of his brother.
More than a month has passed since Chuck's death, and Linda is coping as best she can. Sometimes she can't bring herself to go to work. Sometimes she finds herself crying in the middle of the day.
What haunts her the most is wondering how isolated and alone her oldest son must have felt the last few days of his life.
"If I had known," she said, "I would have brought him home and talked to him and maybe had him admitted to a hospital.
"But I can't do that now."
There was a long silence before she spoke again.
"I've cried every night since then."
|08.25.11, Ray Deering, Tampa, Florida, I'm glad you think my brothers suicide was compelling and made #6 on your list. (we are truly sorry your brother chose one of the most bizarre ways to take himself out. apparently, the st. pete times saw your brother's suicide compelling as well. not only did they post the original news story the day after, but came back 8 weeks later, with what may be the longest story about a skyway suicide that they have ever published. most times now, they give skyway suicides zero article, zero story. had he quietly taken his life at home or simply jumped off the bridge, no doubt he too would have garnered much smaller press. instead, hundreds, maybe thousands of people saw his horror show that day, as well as dozens of first responders. they had to lower him to one of many boats below. that visual alone makes this a compelling skyway suicide. again, sorry about your brother's demise and how he chose to do it.)|
|02.03.92: jumper, male, died
|tbo.com, Jumped from center span. Body recovered by workers in boat below.|
|12.13.91: jumper, male, died
William Vogel, 71
|tbo.com, Car found in emergency lane of northbound center span. Wallet, keys inside. Body recovered same day.|
08.22.91: jumper, female, died
Edith Teresa Lucas, 48
Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Woman who leapt off bridge is identified
The 48-year-old St. Petersburg woman who leapt off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Thursday night has been identified, Hillsborough Sheriff's officials said.
Edith Teresa Lucas, of [address withheld], was seen jumping from the southbound lane of the hump of the bridge about 9 p.m. by a passing truck driver. The driver notified a toll booth operator who called sheriff's officials.
Investigators found a suicide note and Lucas' identification in a 1985 four-door Buick parked on the bridge, officials said.
A body was found in the water near the bridge about 2:30 p.m. Friday, but officials have not confirmed the body is Lucas'.
Lucas' family told investigators that she had attempted suicide before.
The hump of the bridge is 192 feet above the water.
|04.27.91: jumper, male, died
Michael Cushing, 30
|tbo.com, Car found abandoned, running on southbound main span. Body recovered by fishermen next day.|
|02.07.91: jumper, female, died
Jacqueline Derosear, 22
| 02.08.91, St. Petersburg Times, Police search for woman off bridge, St. Petersburg, Fla.: Feb 8, 1991,
Hillsborough sheriff's officials were searching for the body of a 21-year-old
woman they think jumped from the Sunshine Skyway bridge early Thursday.
Investigators said they think Jacqueline Derosear [address
in Brandon, whose birthday was Thursday, jumped from the north side of the
bridge just before 7 a.m., said sheriff's spokesman Jack Espinosa. The Coast
Guard and the sheriff's Marine Patrol searched for Derosear all day but could
not find her, Espinosa said. Derosear's white 1980 Chevrolet Chevette was found
in the emergency lane of the bridge about 6:40 a.m. by another motorist, who
also saw a woman sitting on the side of the bridge, Espinosa said. The driver
called authorities from a nearby tollbooth, but by the time police got to the
bridge the woman was gone. A purse and a wet bundle of woman's clothes were
found in the car, Espinosa said.
Petersburg Times, Body found beneath bridge is identified, St. Petersburg, Fla., The body
of a woman found Tuesday on rocks beneath the Sunshine Skyway was identified
Wednesday as Jacqueline S. Derosear, who apparently jumped off the bridge in
early February, authorities said.
| 10.07.04, Victory V., Arizona, formerly Largo, Hey, I am
trying to find any articles I can on a jump that happened in either 89 or 91. It
was a woman by the name of Jacqueline DeRosear. I was told she did it on her
21st Bday so that would have been in late Jan or in Feb. I haven't had much luck
so any info would be appreciated.
victory sent in another inquiry: Many years ago I
was told a good friend jumped off the Sunhine Skyway bridge on her 21st
birthday, which would have been 1989. I couldn't bring myself to go researching
it then... I am now hoping to find an article or obit, something to give my
brain irrevocable proof that it actually occurred. I have always expected she'd
just show up one day and that it was really just a big fat hairy joke. I am not
offended by your site. One must maintain a sense of humour... Even Hamlet had
comic relief. Thanks for your time and any info you could pass along. -V
(sorry you lost your friend, but at least now you have
12.25.04, Mother, (02.07.91, 6:45am, female, hit rocks, died) I am the mother of Jacqueline DeRosear. Victory V. may have gotten closure after going to your site, but I am sickened by it. There is no closure when a parent's child dies, especially when the child is troubled and there is nothing the parents can do to prevent such a tragedy from happening, short of locking them in a cage. But then, that would have been against her civil rights. And yes, she was under a doctor's so-called care. She certainly didn't do it for any so-called "15 minutes of fame." She wanted to make sure that she did die and not end up as a vegetable and still alive. The police on both sides of the bridge (different counties) were called. They argued over which police department would answer the calls, as it may have been one inch one way or the other, therefore, on the other police department's side of the bridge. I was told this by a policeman on one of the two sides of the bridge. To lend insult to injury, it took fishermen to find her body. Three months to the day after the event. It seems to me that it would have been a no-brainer to look on the rocks directly below the bridge, from the point where she jumped. My daughter felt hopeless and helpless. Nothing anyone told her would have changed her mind. She was a very intelligent, talented and sweet daughter whom I miss very much. The hurt never goes away. It's like a sore that never heals and her death has not been so many years ago, that people like you can make light of the subject of suicide and not hurt the survivors - especially your blabbing it all over the Internet for the whole world to see. Thank you for your insensitivity! (we are truly sorry for your loss. as you may have read, we made no comment, joke, or opinion on your daughter's suicide. we simply posted the publicly released information that we found. these news reports had been on the internet for years before we found them. we have daughters and would be devastated by their death, just as you are by yours. the hurt would never end. should one of ours jump off the skyway, we would post it here as well. we believe that posting these stories, news reports, and the input from people that respond to these suicides, may show potentially suicidal people the folly and hurtful nature of what they are about to do. hiding it from the world, as we assume you want to do, and perhaps going on and on about how great this suicide practitioner was, may simply promote more suicides, as some may feel it's the only way people will show they cared. of course, by then it's too late. it is our opinion that if a doctor is pumping a mentally ill person with the usual menu of mind drugs, then that "doctor" is ultimately responsible for this suicide. call us crazy, but we stand behind that opinion. the skyway bridge actually falls under the jurisdiction of three counties. the northern approach is in pinellas county, the southern approach is in manatee county, and the center portion over the shipping channel is within hillsborough county. it is the hillsborough county sheriff's department that comes to the scene when a jumper situation arises. it would seem, however, that when there is a chance to help a person about to jump, it should not matter what jurisdiction the bridge falls under, any police from anywhere would do.)
04.27.89: jumper, male, died
Victor G. Ogren, 78
Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; 78-year-old man dies in Skyway leap
A 78-year-old man jumped to his death from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Thursday afternoon, police said.
The crew of a shrimp boat near the bridge quickly pulled the man from the water, but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, authorities said. The man had no pulse or respiration when he was found, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Dan Sutyak.
The man was identified as Victor G. Ogren of St. Petersburg.
Ogren, who would have been 79 on Sunday, apparently left no note. Officials said he got out of his car, folded his glasses and placed them on the hood of his car. Authorities could not determine why Ogren committed suicide, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department said Thursday night.
|03.23.89: save, male
Clarence Weber, 39
Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Fight with wife ends in
police chase, STEVAN ALLEN, MARIE TESSIER.
It started Thursday night with the threat of a throat-slashing. It escalated into a police pursuit through Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg. And it ended on a ledge atop the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
There, according to police, Clarence Weber tried to light a cigarette while debating whether to jump to his death.
He couldn't get the cigarette lit because he needed one hand to hold on.
So the St. Petersburg police officer standing several feet away promised to give Weber a cigarette if he got off the ledge and into a cruiser.
Weber chose a cigarette over suicide.
Hours earlier, police say, the man had threatened to kill his wife and their three children with a knife.
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Department and Weber's relatives gave the following account of the incident:
Weber, 39, showed up at his estranged wife's house at [address withheld] in Largo around 11:30 p.m.
He entered the woman's bedroom and put a 7-inch knife to her throat and threatened to kill her and three children in the house.
Margaret Weber, 36, managed to talk her husband into giving up the knife, which she placed in a nearby drawer.
The couple talked for a while, but an argument flared. The man began choking his wife, then stopped when she began to pass out.
When she came to, Mrs. Weber saw her husband kneeling on the floor crying, she said. But when he realized their 17-year-old daughter had fled the house to get help, the man grabbed the couple's 8-year-old daughter and drove away with her in his white 1978 Dodge Aspen.
Deputies saw the Dodge in the neighborhood. They followed Weber after he ignored repeated warnings to pull over. The man ran several red lights and speeded at times, arrest records show.
At 66th Street and 121st Avenue N, Weber stopped and forced his daughter out of the car, then drove away. A deputy picked the girl up and continued to pursue the Aspen southbound on U.S. 19.
Several minutes later, Sgt. Ed Billington Jr. of the St. Petersburg Police Department heard over his radio that a car was being followed by a Sheriff's Department helicopter, police spokesman George Pinckney said.
With instructions from the helicopter, Billington followed the Aspen as it sped through the Sunshine Skyway toll plaza.
Near the top of the bridge, the car pulled over. Billington stopped and saw Weber jump over a 4-foot barrier onto a ledge.
Weber threatened to jump when the officer approached.
Weber said he would get off the ledge if Billington put in writing his promise to give him a cigarette. Billington jotted his promise on a business card and gave it to the man.
According to Pinckney, the officer told Weber, ``It's time to keep your word like a man.``
Weber got in the cruiser and was arrested. He was given a cigarette, Pinckney said.
Margaret Weber said Friday that she recently told her husband of 19 years that she wanted a divorce.
Weber was being held Friday in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $6,400 bail.
He is charged with aggravated assault, child abuse, reckless driving and fleeing and eluding a police officer. - Staff writer Marie Tessier contributed to this report.
04.26.89: full article
02.18.10, Belle J., Maybe this one shouldn't have been saved -- Clarence
Weber. Twenty years after he threatened to jump after attempting to murder his
wife, he killed his second wife:
>>> 07.08.08, From the Chicago Tribune, Husband of slain woman is arrested in Indiana while walking back to his Waukegan home, police say Man had been sought since his wife was fatally stabbed Saturday in Lincolnshire
By Deborah Horan | Chicago Tribune reporter, 7:13 PM CDT, July 8, 2008
A man wanted on charges of murdering his wife in a Lincolnshire parking lot apparently was planning to return to his far north suburban home when a police officer arrested him at gunpoint early Tuesday as he walked along an isolated rural road in northwest Indiana, police said.
Clarence Weber, 58, told Capt. Rick Borchert, the arresting officer, he intended to walk about 45 miles from the truck stop where he had abandoned his car the previous evening to Waukegan, where he had lived with Adelina Weber and three children, a Lake County, Ind., sheriff's spokesman said.
"He was trying to walk back to Waukegan," said the spokesman, Mike Higgins.
Higgins said it was unclear why Weber, most recently of the 3400 block of Lewis Avenue in Waukegan, would attempt to return to the area two days after Illinois police issued a warrant for his arrest. Adelina Weber, 31, was stabbed to death Saturday afternoon in the parking lot outside a pancake house where she was a server. She collapsed in the lobby of the adjacent SpringHill Suites hotel, 300 Marriott Drive, in Lincolnshire.
Weber had been driving south on Interstate Highway 65 in Indiana, possibly to Florida where he once lived with a previous wife, when police spotted his rented red Chevrolet Equinox parked Monday afternoon outside the Flying J truck stop on 181st Avenue near Lowell.
Police believe Weber noticed the officers approaching his car and ran off, Higgins said. Police cordoned off the truck stop and began a 7-hour manhunt using dogs and helicopters equipped with infrared thermal imaging devices that can detect body heat. The search was called off at 11 p.m., Higgins said.
By 6 a.m. Tuesday police had received numerous emergency calls from people who had spotted Weber walking along Delaware Street near 137th Avenue, south of Crown Point, Ind., about 6 miles from the truck stop. Half an hour later, Borchert of the U.S. Marshals' Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force saw Weber while driving to his nearby office, Higgins said.
"[Borchert] got out of the car with his very large gun pointed at [Weber] and said 'Get down on the ground,' " Higgins said.
Weber appeared subdued and did not resist arrest, Higgins said. He is being held at the Lake County, Ind., jail pending extradition to Illinois, where he will be arraigned. The warrant for Weber's arrest set bail at $2 million, Illinois police said.
Court documents in Illinois show that Weber had been having problems with his wife, who filed for divorce June 30. Both husband and wife had sought court orders of protection against each other, though Clarence Weber later asked for his order to be dropped.
Grieving family members painted a picture of emotional abuse that they said Adelina Weber had suffered while living with her husband. She moved out of the house in April, taking the couple's two children and a third child she had from a previous relationship with her, relatives said. She cited Clarence Weber's criminal record as the reason why she feared him, court documents state.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, he was convicted in 1989 of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping of his 8-year-old daughter and other crimes after he first held a knife to his previous wife's neck, then on another occasion tried to blow up her house with stolen canisters of hydrogen.
|01.23.89: save, male
Garth Louis Meyers, 24
Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg;
Trooper, DOT worker pull man off Skyway's edge
BRADENTON - A state trooper and a Department of Transportation employee grabbed a man who apparently was about to jump from the Sunshine Skyway bridge Monday morning, officials said.
After rescuing the man, troopers found lead weights in his pockets and a suicide note in his car. Trooper Frank Giles was patrolling the Manatee County side of Interstate 375 when a passer-by flagged him down and told him that a man was sitting on top of the bridge with his feet dangling over the side, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Christopher Knight said.
Giles sped to the top of the bridge, where he saw the St. Petersburg man sitting on the southbound side of the bridge.
Giles stopped his car on the northbound side and went across the bridge span, where he asked DOT employee Richard Cook for help.
``They ran up behind him and each one grabbed an arm and they were able to pull him back over the bridge span,`` Knight said. ``The jumper never saw them.``
Knight said that the man apparently was despondent over the loss of his girlfriend and the loss of his job.
Giles, a trooper for five years, found the man's 1980 Trans Am parked on the bridge. The suicide note was inside. The man was taken to Tampa General Hospital for mental evaluation.
12.24.88: jumper, female, died, body missing
Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Woman jumps from Skyway; KAREN DATKO;
A woman waving at passing cars on the crest of the Sunshine Skyway turned and jumped off the bridge Saturday afternoon as a Florida Highway Patrol car approached her, authorities said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Marine Patrol ended an unsuccessful search for the woman's body two hours later.
Efforts to determine the woman's identity are suspended until a body is recovered, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Saturday night. Authorities could not a find a car abandoned on or near the bridge.
The woman, in her late 20s and dressed in a pink halter top, a pink shawl or scarf and blue jeans, was spotted on the bridge by a passing motorist, Hillsborough Sheriff's Deputy Dan Aggers said.
The highway patrol said it received the report at 1 p.m. Trooper Charles Griffith drove up the span shortly after 1:20 p.m.
The woman was standing beside the southbound lanes, waving at passing cars - ``like she was clowning,`` Aggers said the trooper reported.
``As he crested (the bridge) where she could see him, she looked at him very intently and just jumped over the side,`` Aggers said.
Griffith couldn't see the woman in the water, Coast Guard Petty Officer Stan Fifield said.
Three Coast Guard boats and a Florida Marine Patrol boat searched the area for two hours without finding any sign of the woman. Fifield said the search extended one mile into Tampa Bay since the tide was coming in. A marine patrol airplane also flew briefly over the area.
Charlotte Macy, toll facilities supervisor on the Skyway, said her employees never saw the woman on remote cameras on the bridge.
Some authorities speculated she may have been dropped off by a motorist.
12.26.88, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Skyway jumper still unidentified ST. PETERSBURG - Officials had no clues Sunday to the identity of a woman who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway on Christmas Eve nor had they found any trace of her in Tampa Bay. A search for the woman, who jumped from the crest of the bridge about 1:15 p.m. Saturday as a Florida Highway Patrol trooper drove up, was called off Saturday night after two hours. ``She was waving at cars from the west shoulder,`` Trooper Charles Griffith said Sunday. ``But when I got to about 500 feet (from her), she looked at me. Looked like she had fear or surprise or whatever on her face, and didn't hesitate or anything - walked over ... and jumped over.`` The Skyway is about 200 feet above the water at its highest point. No abandoned cars were found nearby, and authorities think the woman may have walked up the bridge or been let out of a car. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident. Griffith described the woman as between 30 and 40 years old, about 5-feet-6, with sandy-blond, shoulder-length hair worn in a pony tail. She was wearing a pink halter top, a pink shawl or scarf and blue jeans.
|12.04.88: save, male
Dennis T. Rowe, 28
|12.05.88, St. Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Police thwart suicide attempt, A 28-year-old Bradenton man threatened to jump off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Sunday, police said. Dennis T. Rowe of [address withheld] sat on the bridge for about 45 minutes until deputies from the Hillsborough and Sarasota Sheriff's departments convinced him not to jump. Rowe told police he was upset about a drug problem.|
11.14.88: jumper, male, died
Kevin Whalen, 29
Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Body may be suicide victim's
A boater found a body floating near Egmont Key on Monday afternoon just hours after police found an abandoned car on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge with a suicide note inside.
Police found the car about 11:30 a.m. The U.S. Coast Guard received a call at 3:30 p.m. from a person in a pleasure boat who had sighted the body near Egmont Key, which is about six miles from the Skyway.
The Coast Guard turned the male body over to the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office Monday evening. The body had not been positively identified as of late Monday evening, but Sgt. Guy Roebuck of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department said investigators think the abandoned car and the body are related.
Police said the man who owns the abandoned car was reported missing Monday.
St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Apparent suicide victim identified;
|06.03.88: save, male
Frank Rivera, 38
Petersburg Times; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Bridge
rescue, Despondent veteran pulled from Skyway,
BRADENTON - Police negotiators grabbed a 38-year-old Vietnam veteran and hauled him to safety Friday almost four hours after the man parked his car on the Sunshine Skyway bridge and threatened to jump.
The Skyway, the link between Pinellas and Manatee counties, was closed for almost four hours while the St. Petersburg man sat on a concrete barrier on the southbound span and sipped beers. Tempers and radiators ran hot as traffic backed up for miles in both directions before authorities could close the interstate entrances to the bridge.
Frank Rivera, of [address withheld], was charged with obstructing a highway. Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said Rivera was taken to a crisis management center in Tampa for evaluation.
The incident began about 9:30 a.m. when passers-by noticed a man drinking beer and sitting precariously close to the edge of the bridge, officials said.
"We saw his car first. I thought he had hit something," said 48-year-old Bob Daniels, who was driving northbound toward St. Petersburg. "He was sitting on a wall with a 12-pack of Budweiser."
Authorities closed the bridge just before 10 a.m. Some motorists pulled out lounge chairs and prepared for a long wait. Others played paddle ball, walked dogs and lined up at the only telephone near the toll booth.
Hillsborough County sheriff's officials, who handled the incident because the center of the bridge is in Hillsborough County, say Rivera was despondent because he had been unable to visit with his son.
"We heard that he had a young son from another marriage and he wanted to see the son and couldn't," said Capt. Bill Law. "For some reason he was very depressed about it."
Law said it took hours to get Rivera down because in crisis situations, the three-person negotiating team wants to avoid pressuring the suspect.
"It's been our experience at times that the longer time that goes by, the less likely it's going to be that we're going to have a bad situation," Law said. "Eventually, the crisis team was able to get close enough to grab him and pull him to safety."
Rivera's counselor from the Veterans Administration also helped negotiators calm him down, Law said. Rivera's wife was called to the scene but she did not speak to her husband, Law said.
Motorists complained that they had no way of knowing the bridge was closed until they were on the approach.
But DOT officials say their agency now has no plans to install any sort of sign system that could divert traffic around Tampa Bay when the Skyway is closed in an emergency.
DOT deputy traffic engineer Jack Brown said a consulting engineer has been hired to examine the interstate corridor through Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to assess its future.
According to the Times' records, 54 people have jumped from the Skyway since the original structure opened in 1954. That includes both the old and the new Skyways. The new bridge opened to traffic April 30, 1987. - Staff writer David K. Rogers contributed to this report.
02.14.88: jumper, female, died
Dorothy J. Merrill, 67
Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Woman leaps to her death from the Sunshine
CORTEZ - A Tampa woman who had stuffed a newspaper article about suicide into a pocket jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, killing herself Sunday afternoon.
The woman was identified as 67-year-old Dorothy J. Merrill of [address withheld] in Tampa, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokesman Jack Espinosa said.
A boater found the body and called the Coast Guard about 12:45 p.m. Sunday, an official said.
Edward Bennett was aboard a 23-foot sailboat when he saw the woman standing in the middle section of the bridge in one of the safety lanes, said Virginia Flynn, a radio operator at the Coast Guard station at Cortez in Manatee County.
Bennett and his passengers thought it was strange that someone was standing on the bridge, but they continued sailing.
When they turned around to head out, they heard a splash, Flynn said. ``When they looked, about 75 feet in front of them, they saw a large area of blood, and then the body.``
Impact from the 192-foot fall apparently caused the bleeding.
Coast Guard officials removed the body from the water about 2:45 p.m. and brought it to the Cortez station, where medical examiners and Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies investigated Sunday night.
The woman fell into Hillsborough County waters.
``One of the guys on our boat found a newspaper clipping or a magazine clipping relating to depression and suicide in her pocket,`` said Al Cline, officer of the day at the Cortez station.
A car with its flashers on was removed from the top of the southbound lanes of the bridge about 4:30 Sunday. Police would not confirm that the car belonged to the woman.
She was the second person to commit suicide by jumping from the new Skyway, which opened April 30. Charles Huth of St. Petersburg jumped from the bridge in October.
St. Petersburg Times files indicate that at least 54 people have jumped from the Skyway since the first span opened in 1954. Forty-five of those have died.. BAY AREA SUICIDE HOT LINES Crisis hot line numbers in the Tampa Bay area include: Pinellas Emergency Mental Health Services791-3131 Hotline information and referral: In Pinellas County531-4664 In New Port Richey848-5555 or 848-6187 In central Pasco County228-8686 In Dade City(904) 567-1111 Suicide and Crisis Center of Hillsborough County238-8821
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