since 1998
   bullshit facebook     translate
report bridge news  • what's new  • feel suicidal?
the barrier  •  by name  •  search  •  home 
bottom of this page  •  site map  •  contact

2004 jump events

updated: 02.21.16
have any factual news, updates, or additions?
(our comments follow)
10.24.04: possible jumper, 9:49pm
thank you, jumpnews reporter:
10.24.04, Bill E., Brandon Fl., (10.24.04, 9:49pm) FHP dispatched a unit to 'skyway bridge'. Type of call 'suicide'
10.29.04, Bill E., Brandon Fl., No further reports of a jumper, or body recovery. I think the last 'possible jumper' didn't happen. Although the report came in as a suicide, that was the way it was reported to police, not what police thought. I think it was unfounded, maybe someone taking pictures or stopped to look at the view from the Skyway, and somebody thought it might be a suicide about to happen.

any more info is welcome.
10.24.04, florida highway patrol, Incident # TBRC04CAD142625 10/24/2004 Suicide. dispatched 9:49:20 PM  arrival time 10:00:25 PM, PINELLAS, SKYWAY BRIDGE [SB N TOLL PLAZA] [ST PETERSBURG] 
08.05.04: jumper, 3:40pm, female, no hotline phones, hit water, died, body found same day
Joni Joyce Cabiness, 51
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
08.05.04, Diana M., Bradenton, FL., (3:40pm, female) My mother's friend's husband was driving over the bridge and witnessed a woman jumping off the bridge. I have no other information, or knowledge as to where more info can be found, sorry.

08.05.04, unknown, (3:48pm) State police dispatched at 3:48 to call labeled 'suicide' @ Skyway bridge

08.05.04, Elwood, Bradenton, FL., (3:35pm, female) I was driving home and saw this lady go over. She was standing by the edge as I passed and I looked in my reariview mirror just in time to see her slip over the wall. I couldn't believe what I saw. I was stunned.

any more info is welcome.
08.05.04, Hillsborough Sheriff, Joni Joyce Cabiness, 51, Riverview, Fl., The victim left her residence in her 2001 Toyota at approximately 2:20 p.m. The St. Petersburg Fire Rescue boat found her body 400 feet from the Skyway Bridge at 4:47 p.m.. Her Toyota was found, parked on the bridge by the F.H.P. in the south bound emergency lane. 

08.07.04, st. petersburg times, Body of Riverview woman found near Skyway,
TAMPA - St. Petersburg Fire Rescue workers found the body of a 51-year-old Riverview woman floating 400 feet from the Skyway Bridge on Thursday afternoon. 
Her Toyota was found later on the bridge in the southbound emergency lane. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating Joni Joyce Cabiness' death as a suicide.
07.06.04: save
Michael Vincent, 37
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
07.06.04, R., Wimama, My sister was trying to come see me about some property for sale. She was stuck just after the southbound toll booth. One of the toll takers said they heard on their radio that someone had jumped. Traffic backed up for miles. A check on the FHP website showed "suicide" at 4:55 pm. After sitting for over an hour, at this posting, she has not moved from the "parking lot". She tells me people are getting out and talking to each other.

07.06.04, ESP, St. Pete., Driving north on Skyway when things come to a screaming stop at the crest as one of FHP's finest stops northbound traffic. Damn near tailended the guy in front of me. Southbound lanes a mass of FHP, SPPD, SPFD, etc. Noticed a short haired guy in bright orange T-shirt sitting on western edge of bridge in middle of span with feet hanging over water. No idea what happened, I'll check back here later.

07.06.04, leaper of faith, palmetto, i was stuck at the bottom of the bridge for 4 hours tonight while some chowderhead sat up there and cried like a little beeeetch. Just after the lighning struck he decieded, "hey i could get killed up here" and traffic started moving again.
If you are thinking of jumping, think about it long and hard and if you still want to jump, then jump, but don't sit at the top of the bridge and hold thousands of people hostage. i just sat on the bridge for 4 hours and got stories from all kinds of people, a pregnat woman, a couple from New York who had a flight to catch, they missed it, a woman who had dinner planned with her Grandma, no dinner. And the person didn't jump. either jump or get off the bridge!!!!!

07.06.04, jb., clearwater, I saw him. He was sitting on the rail of the southbound lanes. The police had the lane closest to him blocked, but were letting traffic thru on the center most lane. He was a male, around 30. He was sitting with his left leg on the rail and right leg hanging down. He was holding the rail with his left hand and his right arm was out with his hand up, seeming to tell the closest policeman to stay back.

07.07.04, MP, Pikeville, KY., What the hell happened on the bridge tonight? My Family and I are here on vacation and were driving from Sarasota to St. Pete tonight when we ran into some bad traffic right before crossing the bridge. Being unfamiliar with the bridge, we were concerned that there was too much weight on the bridge from the slowdown. Cops and unmarked vans were screaming by us as we started up the bridge. When we got to the top of the bridge, we see cops adorning body armor and we notice a police sniper.. uhhh. sharpshooter with his scope trained on someone. We passed the individual in question. I noticed he was wearing an orange top and the kids said he was wearing all orange. Was he an escapee??? We got done eating in St. Pete around 10:00 and I asked the cops and they said the bridge was still closed. I can't find anything on this story yet though. There was a brief mention of it on Mix 100.7

07.07.04, Paul S., Sarasota, Another Save and a traffic nightmare. Thousands of cars backed up for miles. This guy sure got the attention he was seeking..... I'm sure most of those hot and stranded drivers would have helped him over the edge.

07.07.04, Nichole, Palmetto, FL., Last evening the entire southbound lane was completely closed down as there was a jumper on the top of the skyway that started at 5:30 p.m. and I was stuck on the road for 5 hours until he was finally giving in or surrendered.....he picked this time during rush hour traffic and traffic was backed up for over five miles for this idiot! Supposedly he had a gun or a bomb so there were snipers and all involved....people were literaly using the bushes for urinals both men and women and children....we did not move and all of our cars were turned off for five hours !!! What an asshole..I would of gladly pushed him off myself.... us civilians had not water restrooms overheating..wasted gas an we were told nothing..had to use our cell phones to call people at home to turn on the news to find out what was going on...!!!!

07.08.04, Niki R., South Pasadena, FL., I was one of the LUCKY people headed northbound as this gentleman in his oh-so-stylish deer-hunter orange Tshirt contemplated his mortality, while surrounded by Hillsborough deputies armed with ASSAULT RIFLES. Tell me a guy in camo crouched behind a car with one of those little dolls wouldn't make you consider taking an alternative route!!!!

07.09.04, unknown, Traffic stopped for four hours while police tried to coax down a man in his mid thirties who is distraught over having caused permanent life debilitating injury to his 11 week old son caused by Shaking Baby Syndrome. He had just finished reading the lastest medical reports and directly headed for the big jump. Rush hour traffic came to a stand still while officials talked him down. Though some motorists were angry, most make the best of a bad situation. The dolphins were swimming below, the sun was setting and most got out of thier cars to make new friends and acquaintances. Traffic started moving at 9:20 p.m.

any more info is welcome.

Hillsborough Sheriff, Michael Vincent, 37 dob 2-21-67, Clearwater, Florida, Individual on Skyway Bridge, July 6, 2004 at 5:10 pm, Center Span, Skyway Bridge, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office responded to the center span of the Skyway Bridge at the request of the Florida Highway Patrol, reference an individual that was sitting on the bridge. Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response and Crisis Management Teams responded to make contact with the individual. The southbound lane of the Skyway Bridge was closed and one lane of northbound traffic was closed during the negotiations. Michael Vincent was taken into custody at approximately 9:30 p.m. and referred for counseling.
07.07.04, st. petersburg times, ST. PETERSBURG - Michael Geraci passed the toll booth on the Sunshine Skyway bridge about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, headed home for spaghetti and meatballs. 
Instead, he and thousands of drivers were stuck in traffic for nearly four hours until Hillsborough sheriff's deputies were able to coax a suicidal man off the bridge.
"This is horrible," Geraci said about 9:30 p.m. "There are elderly people out here, stuck in the 90-degree heat."
Thousands of people jammed telephone lines at the Florida Highway Patrol, angry about Hillsborough deputies' decision to close down most lanes of traffic to deal with the potential jumper.
People were sweaty, hungry and thirsty, and dozens began walking toward a rest area on the bridge to use the restroom, Geraci said. Men climbed on top of pickups, trying to catch a glimpse of activity on the bridge. 
"No one came to help, to give water, or even to tell us what was happening," Geraci said. "That's the most disheartening part of this whole ordeal."
Hillsborough deputies shut down traffic on the Skyway shortly after 5 p.m. when a man threatened to plunge 197 feet off the southbound side of the bridge into Tampa Bay. He was taken into custody about 9:15 p.m. and referred to counselors.
But during the drama, all southbound lanes were shut down about 31/2 hours, and one northbound lane was closed, said Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
The FHP was not happy about closing so many lanes of traffic.
"It's absolutely a fiasco out there," said FHP spokesman Larry Coggins. "That's why we didn't want the bridge closed."
Several law enforcement agencies share jurisdiction of the bridge. Hillsborough County is responsible for the center span, but the FHP also patrols the road.
Coggins said lane closures backed up traffic to Interstate 75 in Manatee County and to 54th Avenue S in Pinellas County.
Since the FHP began its suicide patrol in 2000, troopers have saved 46 people without causing such delays, Coggins said.
The incident was coming to a close as Mike McClatchy drove north over the bridge from Sarasota to Pinellas County. He looked over to the other side and saw at least a dozen patrol cruisers, lights flashing.
He saw a man standing with his back to the bridge and thought he looked relaxed. About 30 or 50 feet away, a sniper was pointing a rifle at the man, McClatchy said.
Additionally, a number of officers wearing ski masks were hiding strategically on the bridge, holding rifles, McClatchy said. "It looked like they were getting ready to take the guy out."
Carter, of the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, said the agency sent its crisis management team.
She said officers closed the bridge to negotiate with the man, and also to ensure that he wouldn't run in front of a moving vehicle. She said deputies needed weapons because they didn't know if the man was armed.
He was not, deputies later discovered.
Officers knew shutting down the bridge around 5 p.m. would create a "logistical nightmare," Carter said, but didn't feel they had a choice.
"You're trying to convince an individual to remove themselves from the bridge," she said. "You can't put a time frame on that."

07.08.04, st. petersburg times, Official unapologetic for closing Skyway, BRADY DENNIS
Hillsborough Sheriff's Maj. Gary Terry is the man behind the decision that left thousands of motorists sweltering Tuesday in summer gridlock on both sides of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
And he's not sorry in the least. It was the right thing to do, he said, regardless of the inconvenience.
"We had a job to do," he said.
Every driver stuck in the four-hour traffic jam, every restless child, every homesick office worker, every thirsty, starving, sweaty soul - they might not have known his name, but they were cursing him.
A man atop the Sunshine Skyway bridge was threatening suicide just after 5 p.m.
Nearly 30 miles away, at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office special operations division, Terry was getting updates from crisis workers on scene.
He gave the order to close both southbound lanes and one northbound lane.
The road didn't reopen until after 9:15 p.m. Thousands of motorists sat idle in the Florida heat for nearly four hours, a line of anger and frayed nerves stretching from Interstate 75 in Manatee County to 54th Avenue S in Pinellas County.
A Florida Highway Patrol official called the shutdown "a fiasco." People flooded phone lines and e-mail accounts with complaints.
A day later, Terry was sympathetic but unmoved.
"We did save a life last night," he said.
He said he understands the inconvenience that closing the bridge caused. He knows thousands of people were irate.
But at least one woman was not.
"The mother of the gentleman threatening to commit suicide," he said, "was eternally grateful."
Most potential jumpers arrive at night, when traffic is sparse.
Tuesday was different. A 37-year-old Clearwater man threatened to take the 197-foot plunge during rush hour.
When the FHP trooper stationed on the bridge had no luck talking him down, he called the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office to ask for a negotiator.
Several state and local agencies share jurisdiction of the bridge. Hillsborough County is responsible for the center span and the shipping channel below.
The department's emergency response team and crisis management team arrived and began negotiating with the man. That's when Terry made the call to close the bridge.
"We were having traffic come by and hollering taunts, like 'Jump!' and 'Go ahead and kill yourself!' " he said. "All you need is something like that to push a person over the edge."
Terry also said he didn't want cars passing by in case the man tried to harm himself, other drivers or sheriff's deputies by running into traffic.
And he said deputies weren't sure at first whether the man was armed (he wasn't), so he had snipers with rifles and ski masks stationed in the area, a move FHP officials said is uncommon but one the Sheriff's Office insists is standard protocol.
FHP officials, like many of the idle drivers, showed irritation. They said they saw no reason to close the bridge.
The FHP has stationed a round-the-clock trooper on the bridge since 2000 to monitor for potential suicides. In that time, troopers have saved 46 lives, "and we've never closed the bridge down to do that," said Trooper Larry Coggins.
Coggins also said that the FHP, along with the Florida Department of Transportation and the St. Petersburg Police Department, bore the "undue hardship" of Tuesday's incident.
"We're the ones that fielded the heat from the public," Coggins said. "It's been a siege of phone calls and e-mails."
Terry hinted that it would have been irresponsible not to close the bridge.
"It's a very volatile situation," he said. "You spend whatever time you have to spend. You can't rush it because it's 5 o'clock traffic."
Officials at both the FHP and the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that they will meet soon to discuss how to handle similar Skyway situations better in the future.
"I don't know what's going to come out of this," Coggins said. "But I'm sure something will."
The man poised to jump Tuesday was Michael Vincent, 37, who made news in April after his arrest on an aggravated child abuse charge. Pinellas County sheriff's detectives said Vincent shook his 3-month- old son because the baby would not stop crying. The boy wound up in a coma.
Vincent was released from jail on April 8, but he was accused of violating a court order by contacting his wife later that month. He was jailed again on $100,000 bail, which he posted on April 14.
After meeting with his attorney Tuesday to discuss his son's medical condition, Vincent apparently headed to the Skyway. He tried to call his wife from the bridge, again violating the court order, said his attorney, Jay Hebert.
Upon learning that Vincent was threatening to jump, Hebert called the FHP and offered information about his client. He tried to drive to the bridge to help but couldn't get there because of the traffic jam.
Vincent eventually was talked down from the bridge and taken for counseling.
A judge on Wednesday issued a warrant for his arrest for violating the no-contact order a second time. Vincent was being held at the Orient Road Jail, awaiting extradition to Pinellas County, Hebert said.
Hebert said Vincent is a 9-year U.S. Army veteran who served in the Gulf War. He works as a commercial diver.
Terry arrived at work Tuesday about 7:30 a.m., so he was set to go home around rush hour, like thousands of others motorists. But then the potential jumper call came, and the negotiations wore on. Soon it was past 10 p.m.
He was stuck, just like the drivers he had stranded. When he got home, he couldn't go straight to bed.
The man who caused the traffic jam turned on his computer, pulled up the Internet and relaxed by reading about an upcoming FBI conference in Destin.
Local law enforcement agencies weren't the only places receiving angry e-mails about the closing of the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Below, a sampling of those sent to the st. petersburg times:
"I was stuck in that nightmare yesterday evening. It is an absolute joke that they inconvenienced that many people for a potential jumper. . . . The fact that sooo many resources were called out for one man is deplorable in my opinion. They should have let him jump!"
"As anyone with a small amount of common sense could determine, the folks with the power made a bad decision. If a person wants to jump off the bridge, just ignore him. Do we seriously need to inconvenience all the innocent sane people for one nut? I say NO."
"Nothing like a potential bridge jumper to get the Sheriff's Office adrenaline pumping. Do you honestly think they needed to take all those precautions? If the guy ends up running in front of a car, then he ends up getting what he intended in the first place. Now you know why you hear of other instances where people drive by and tell bridge jumpers to go ahead and get it over with."
"What I cannot believe is the amount of money we (as tax payers) spend every year keeping these people from jumping off the Skyway. . . . I don't want to sound crass - but there has to be a solution to this dilemma."
"We (taxpayers) pay such great amounts of money and time in "training" our officials for emergency situations. I (like thousands of others) was extremely frustrated to sit idly watching the lack of organization in which the "ENTIRE SITUATION" was handled."
"I was looking forward to dinner, books and a relaxing evening with my family. Instead I endured an evening in the 90 (degree) heat, without a bathroom, without food, without any information and completely miserable. . . . Delaying working individuals, children, infants and elderly people for four hours in the heat is defined as torture in many civilized countries. I pay my taxes, I go to church, what have I done to deserve such treatment."
"I did find time to balance my checkbook, clean out my center console (boy, I sure collected a lot of business cards over the years), make a small grocery list, and thanks to cell phones, made a hair appointment and caught up chatting with some friends."
Who's in charge?
Jurisdiction on the Sunshine Skyway bridge can be confusing. Four different law enforcement agencies share the burden, with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office responsible for the center span.

07.08.04, TAMPA TRIBUNE, Anguished Dad Held In Skyway Tie-Up, By DAVID SOMMER 
CLEARWATER - The man behind a 10-mile-long traffic jam that stranded thousands of motorists on the Sunshine Skyway bridge for about four hours Tuesday evening had just learned the latest sad news about his brain-damaged infant son. 
Michael Vincent, who is facing up to 30 years in prison on a charge of aggravated child abuse, had just left his lawyer's office where he read recent medical reports regarding the injuries he inflicted on his 11- week-old son in early April, defense attorney Jay Hebert said in court Wednesday. 
Vincent, 37, tried to contact his estranged wife in violation of court orders about 5 p.m., shortly before Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies shut down all southbound traffic on the Skyway after Vincent threatened to jump, Assistant State Attorney Lydia Wardell told a judge Wednesday. 
The child's grandmother answered the telephone at the Vincents' Clearwater home and reminded him he was under court orders not to contact his wife, Mary, the prosecutor told Circuit Judge Linda Allan. 
Vincent responded: ``That doesn't matter anymore. Just tell her I love her and I hope she is going to be OK,' '' Wardell said. 
After talking Vincent down off the bridge, deputies took him to a secure counseling facility under the state's Baker Act, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said Wednesday. 
Allan convened an emergency hearing Wednesday afternoon at the prosecutor's request. After hearing from both Wardell and Hebert, the judge issued an arrest warrant without bail to ensure that Vincent is taken directly to Pinellas County Jail upon his release from the Hillsborough facility. 
Hebert said his client needs mental health counseling. 
Allan agreed to consider moving him to a medical facility. 
Vincent was arrested April 8, the day after 11-week-old Ryan Vincent was rushed to Mease Countryside Hospital with injuries including bleeding in his brain that left the child in a coma, according to court records. 
Vincent denied injuring the boy but later made a full confession, his defense attorney told the judge Wednesday. 
Hebert described his client as a distinguished Gulf War veteran who now works as a diver on underwater bridge projects and has never been in trouble with the law. 
On April 7, Vincent had a ``five- to 10-second outburst'' of poor judgment when he shook his infant son in a misguided attempt to make the baby stop crying, Hebert said. 
As a condition of his release pending resolution of the aggravated child abuse charge, Vincent has been prohibited from contacting his wife and has not been receiving information about the boy, Hebert said. 
On Tuesday, after Vincent read recent medical reports at Hebert's office, ``he said he was going to church and then to counseling in the morning,'' Hebert told the judge. 
``I think he's just incredibly depressed over this tragic situation,'' the defense attorney said. 
Wardell said the child has suffered significant, life-altering injuries and that Vincent's state of mind has left him a danger to himself and others. 
Allan said she agreed. 
Vincent had pulled over and parked his car in the Skyway's southbound breakdown lane shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday and sat straddling the edge of the bridge, one leg over the water, one on the pavement, when Hillsborough deputies arrived to close the bridge and began speaking with him. 
They spoke for most of four hours, with northbound drivers sometimes screaming ``Jump!'' from their cars as they passed, witnesses said. 
Vehicles in the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway were backed up for miles, almost to 54th Avenue South, said Trooper Larry Coggins of the Florida Highway Patrol. At one point, a northbound lane was closed and cars were backed up to Interstate 75 in Manatee County, he said. 
The traffic jam lasted from slightly after 5 to 9:20 p.m., Coggins said. 
``They made the decision to close the bridge and we respect their decision,'' Coggins said. 
``There were a lot of unhappy motorists, but the bottom line is, no officers were hurt, no citizens were hurt and the subject was taken into custody safely,'' Coggins said.

07.08.04, USF Oracle, Opinion, Citizens forget how to show sympathy, display apathy
Tuesday the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office shut down lanes on the southbound side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge because of a suicidal man who planned to jump off of the 197-foot bridge. Disappointingly, however, passengers stuck in the resulting traffic jam voiced more concern about the delay caused than about the suicidal man. 
According to the st. petersburg times, the Florida Highway Patrol received thousands of angry phone calls from commuters stuck on the bridge -- commuters allegedly angry about the decision to close the lanes on the bridge in order to deal with the disoriented man. 
Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, told the Times that the decision was made to close the bridge in order to allow deputies to talk to the man and avoid giving him the opportunity to run in front of passing cars. 
Yet, Michael Geraci, a commuter caught in the traffic, told the Times, "No one came to help, to give water, or even to tell us what was happening ... that's the most disheartening part of this whole ordeal." 
What was the most disheartening part of the situation was the fact that a man was trying to end his life, potentially only feet away from where Geraci's car was stopped, not the admittedly inconvenient situation it put commuters in. 
According to rough statistics compiled by (hello? you could have maybe got the site name correct.), a sarcastic yet anti-suicide website tracking how many suicides occur on the Skyway bridge, 13 suicides with only three saves took place at the bridge in 2003. Hillsborough County itself was ranked the second-highest county in Florida for the number of suicides in 1997, as reported by The USF Department of Child & Family Studies. 
According to the Times, since the FHP began suicide watches in 2000, 46 lives have been saved -- without shutting down the bridge. But considering the fact that deputies felt it was not only necessary to shut down the lanes, but to have snipers present as well, it is apparent that the closures were made in the public's best interest. 
All people involved with the Skyway incident walked away unscathed. Outcomes such as these need to be considered before people complain about being stuck in traffic.

07.09.04, st. petersburg times; The Skyway fiasco, A Times Editorial
Though it sounds good to blame safety concerns, Tuesday's massive backup on the Sunshine Skyway bridge might have been avoided if authorities had better coordinated their response to a man threatening to jump. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office closed most traffic on the bridge during the evening rush-hour drive as deputies talked the man off a southbound ledge. Thousands of motorists were stuck for hours, and while safety must come first, closing the bridge for so long poses its own safety concerns. 
Tuesday's problem shows the problem of having multiple law enforcement agencies share jurisdiction over the bridge. While the roadway connects Pinellas and Manatee counties, Hillsborough controls the center of the span because the shipping channel underneath it resides in Hillsborough County. To confuse things even more, the Florida Highway Patrol assigns a trooper to the bridge 24-hours a day. Troopers typically are the first to respond to would-be jumpers, while Hillsborough dispatches negotiators or larger emergency management teams.
Given the bridge's long history as a place for jumps and the convoluted jurisdictional lines that could affect a life-or-death response, the various agencies should have unified their game plan by now for securing this high-traffic bridge. Hillsborough sheriff's officials at their Tampa headquarters decided Tuesday to close all southbound lanes and one northbound lane on the bridge. A sheriff's spokesman said Wednesday the move was designed to lessen noise on the bridge, thereby allowing officers to hear and speak to the man threatening to jump. No cars on the bridge guaranteed the man would not break and run into traffic. The FHP wanted to keep the bridge open, as it has done dozens of times in recent years while talking down a jumper. But troopers deferred to the Sheriff's Office.
While each case is different, keeping one lane of traffic open in each direction does not seem unreasonable. Certainly the presence of a half-dozen police vehicles, their lights flashing in the closed lane, would slow down traffic on the bridge enough to create a safe environment for police and distressed persons. Additional officers could be called to direct traffic and stop the flow if a person tries to bolt before a car. The bridge, as a contained roadway, makes it hard for a would-be jumper to flee and elude police.
Keeping traffic flowing would also keep motorists from reacting to the frustration by taking illegal and dangerous steps to break from the logjam. Thousands of motorists were stranded Tuesday in miles-long traffic jams. Many of them, no doubt, were worried about personal obligations or the need to contact friends, employers and family. This "fiasco," as the FHP called it, should spur a review of procedures. The various law enforcement agencies should be agreeing beforehand on the script to follow during such incidents.

07.10.04, st. petersburg times, Bridge procedures need another look
Re: Sunshine Skyway bridge fiasco.
Trapped for several hours in the sizzling summer heat with no food, no water, no bathroom, and no escape: Are we talking about Iraqi prisoners being treated badly in an American military prison? No, we are talking about thousands of hard-working, law-abiding, tax- paying citizens who had the misfortune of driving their vehicles onto the Sunshine Skyway bridge Tuesday and being forced to stop while do-good officials tried to save the life of a despondent man threatening to jump from the 192-foot span. Yes, they were successful in saving the life of this man (no doubt several hundred angry, stranded, hungry motorists were further angered by this "good" news), but we really need to review our procedures concerning this situation.
First of all, I recall a psychologist once confiding to me that a person who "threatens" suicide rarely follows through at that time; it's the sneaky person who is too distraught to say anything to anybody who usually follows through. Whether this reasoning has any credence, I don't know. So let's consider this: What if one of our tired, stranded motorists had a stroke due to the sweltering heat, and died because of the inability to get prompt emergency attention? Would we be willing to look at things differently? Would common sense prevail?
Henry J. Weese, Palm Harbor
Situation was shamefully handled
Re: Troubled man, suffering drivers, July 7.
Shame on the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for closing down the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway and holding thousands of drivers (including myself) captive in 95-degree heat for four-plus hours without water, bathrooms and pertinent information! Shame on the Florida Highway Patrol for not taking over the case.
I must cross the Skyway bridge every day, and I only hope that when the next senseless individual attempts to commit suicide, the Highway Patrol is called in, the public is notified frequently via radio and television media, and one lane remains open for traffic to proceed.
Kim Caminiti, St. Petersburg
Inhumane sentiments
Re: Official unapologetic for closing Skyway, July 8.
I empathize with the discomfort experienced by those stuck in traffic for four hours while authorities dealt with a suicide threat on the Sunshine Skyway bridge this week. I understand their anger and frustration, and I don't blame them a bit. I'd be angry in that situation, myself. There is now a debate whether the bridge should've been closed.
Meanwhile, whether it was the right decision or not, may God strike me dead before I ever sink so low into the moral abyss as to call for another person to jump to his death, as reportedly happened while cars were still able to drive past the scene on the bridge. The same uncharitable sentiments were expressed in the sampling of e- mails to the Times published in the paper. All this indicating - to me, anyway - that the fellow human being threatening to take his own life wasn't the only disturbed soul on the bridge that day.
I hope and I pray that those folks never have anyone close to them - or that they themselves - ever fall into such despair that they sit at the edge of the Skyway bridge while people yell, "Go ahead and kill yourself." May it never happen.
Louis A. Claudio, Safety Harbor
Look for a better solution
Re: Official unapologetic for closing Skyway.
Surely transportation and public safety officials can find a middle ground between the unbridled apathy of Hillsborough Sheriff's Maj. Gary Terry toward the health and safety of thousands of Pinellas and Manatee County drivers, and those same drivers who in their frustration and anger demand that the poor souls who stand on the edge of the Sunshine Skyway be pushed over the side. (On a related issue, just how wacky is it that Hillsborough County officials control a bridge that joins Pinellas and Manatee Counties?)
The bridge is neatly divided by Jersey barriers into two two- lane sides, one north and the other south. Contingency procedures should be established so that on either side of the bridge, one lane could be used to carry traffic each way.
It's not particularly tough to do so using programmable signs and lane-control lights; local officials could visit the twin Chesapeake Bay Bridges near Annapolis, Md., to see how it's done.
It's both laudable and necessary to try to save the lives of those staring into the abyss. At the same time, the rest of us have lives that must go on as well.
Wayne Griffith, St. Petersburg
A self-absorbed society
Re: Official unapologetic for closing Skyway.
I just read some of the angry e-mails that were sent to the Times, and it left me deeply disturbed. This is a human life. True, the man did a horrible thing to his child and his wife, but he will pay for that.
What kind of self-absorbed society do we live in that we would yell "jump" out of the window to someone who is desperately in need of help just because we were late for dinner? I was caught in that traffic jam - hot, hungry, irritated. But I was still better off than the guy standing on the edge of the bridge.
Stacey McKee, Palmetto
Try nets and warning signs
As we watched the events unfold on the Sunshine Skyway bridge and as we sympathized with the people who were backed up in traffic for hours, my husband said again, why can't they put up some kind of a net under the high span of that bridge where people want to jump over so these things won't happen.
We just returned from a trip through Atlanta. This is the third time we were held up in traffic because of an accident on I-75. We were in the middle of miles of cars backed up for more than three hours, so I know how those people felt. In Georgia, there is a sign over the roadway that warns people of an accident and possible traffic delays. Those that knew of another route were able to get off and go around.
Wouldn't it be possible to put up a sign that would let people know that there is an accident or incident like the one this week, so they would have a choice of taking another route before they get on the bridge?
We highly commend the Florida Highway Patrol for helping those that did not jump and the sheriff's deputies for coaxing this man off of the bridge.
Dennis and Arlene Scott, St. Petersburg
Give cars a place to turn around
Re: Troubled man, suffering drivers, July 7.
It would appear that providing emergency "turnarounds" between the north and south lanes at the Sunshine Skyway approaches would be prudent. Cost would be relatively low and would enable motorists to extricate themselves from an otherwise untenable situation. Additionally, turnarounds could free up emergency vehicles.
Ralph Lenberger, St. Pete Beach

12.16.04, st. petersburg times, Dad gets prison, boy gets injury for lifetime; RICHARD DANIELSON
A Clearwater man who shook his 3-month-old son so violently that the baby went into a coma and suffered permanent brain damage has pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse and has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Michael Vincent, 37, also faces 20 years of probation following his release from prison and has agreed to give up his parental rights.
The infant, now nearly 11 months old, is out of the coma but "has a significant brain injury from which he will not ever fully recover," prosecutor Tim Hessinger said.
Vincent was one shake away from facing a homicide charge, Hessinger told Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Linda Allan, who sentenced Vincent on Dec. 3. The case is a clear example of why no one should ever shake a baby, according to child protection advocates.
"Effectively (the infant) got a life sentence and so did mom; I think that's what people really don't understand," said Janet Goree of Clearwater, the vice president of the Shaken Baby Alliance, a nonprofit group based in Fort Worth, Texas.
"You just can't have your brain hurt and not suffer some long- term consequence," said Goree, whose 6-week-old granddaughter Kimberlin went blind and died three years after being shaken violently by her father. "Rarely do we see one walk away."
Vincent was accused of shaking his son April 7 because the baby would not stop crying.
After his arrest, Vincent was released to live with his mother in Naples and to continue working as a commercial diver and bridge inspector. That way, he could keep the health insurance for his family, court records show.
But he continued to contact his wife in spite of court orders not to do so. He sent letters and videotapes of himself talking to her and their children.
July 6, Vincent called his wife's home about 5 p.m. and asked the person who answered the telephone to tell his wife, "I love her and I hope she is going to be okay."
Forty-five minutes later, he was at the top of the southbound lanes on the Sunshine Skyway bridge, threatening to jump 197 feet to his death. Both sides of the bridge were shut down for more than three hours, affecting thousands of motorists, while a negotiator talked Vincent down.
In his letters, Vincent apologized to his wife "for ruining your life," said he hated himself, offered to surrender his parental rights and called himself a monster who lost control.
"I didn't mean to hurt him at all," wrote Vincent, a 9-year U.S. Army veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War. At the time of the incident, he had been treated for depression but had stopped taking Prozac. "I am so sorry for putting the family through this."
Shaking a baby can cause serious brain trauma that leads to blindness, paralysis, seizures, brain damage and death. Most deaths occur in children younger than 2.
When a baby is shaken, the infant's head, which is heavy and not supported by strong neck muscles, whips back and forth and rotates, a combination of forces that damages nerve cells, nerve fibers and blood vessels that nourish the brain.
It is the shearing of the nerve cells, with their long fiberlike connections, that is the biggest reason for the brain damage, say doctors who treat such injuries.
Parents and caregivers should always remember that whatever is making a baby cry is not as serious as the damage they can do by shaking a baby, experts say. When adults are about to lose their temper, it's much better to put down the crying infant and leave the room.
In Pinellas, parents can call Help a Child Inc., which is affiliated with the Child Protection Team, at (727) 544-3900, for advice on coping with a crying baby.
Goree said every parent feels frustrated from time to time, which is why it's important to have a plan for when a child is crying and cannot be consoled. It could be something as simple as taking a hot shower, exercising or calling a friend or relative. No one should ever touch a child out of frustration or anger, Goree said.
"When you feel that way, put the baby down and walk away," she said. "No child ever died from crying. But children do die when people pick them up and shake them violently."
Even otherwise loving parents who become frustrated by the stress of caring for a baby can seriously injure or kill an infant by shaking it. Nationally, an estimated 800 to 1,200 babies a year are brought to emergency rooms with symptoms that someone shook them violently.
Experts offer these tips on avoiding abuse:
Never shake an infant under the age of 2, for any reason.
Always provide support for baby's head when holding, playing with or transporting child.
Make sure all those who come in contact with baby know the dangers of shaking.
If a baby is shaken, seek immediate medical attention. Delays compound the severity of the injuries.
Babies sometimes cry even if they are not hungry or wet. Here are some ways to stop a baby from crying:
Hug the baby and speak soothingly.
Offer the baby a pacifier.
Take the baby for a walk in a stroller or ride in a car.
Put on soft music.
Run a vacuum cleaner within hearing range of the baby.
Place the baby in a safe carrier (never unattended, though) on top of a clothes dryer while it is running.
Put the baby in a snuggly body carrier that holds the infant close to your chest and walk around.
Put the child in a crib or other safe place and leave the room for a few minutes. Come back to check on them every 5 minutes or so.
Ask a friend or relative to care for the baby temporarily.
Take 10 deep breaths. Take 10 more.
Take a shower, read a book, listen to music, think of a pleasant memory.
There are parent help lines to call in an emergency, including toll-free 1-800-352-5683 and in Pinellas County, Help a Child Inc. at (727) 544-3900. Information from the nonprofit Shaken Baby Alliance is at
florida mugshots  07.07.04
06.11.04: save, male
Adriel Gonzalez, 24
thank you, jumpnews reporter:
06.11.04, K, gogobutt, Ellenton, Someone is jumping NOW! June 11, 2004 3:35 PM! Holding up traffic! Jump already!!! Move traffic along!

any more info is welcome.
06.11.04, Hillsborough Sheriff, SUICIDE ATT-INPR 2501 1SKYWAY BRIDGE 1416
06.12.04, st. petersburg times, By JAMIE THOMPSON
ST. PETERSBURG - On top of the Sunshine Skyway bridge, a man parked his car, ran across two lanes of traffic and began climbing over the edge. 
The 24-year-old straddled a narrow concrete beam, one leg falling toward the dark green water 197 feet below.
Nearby, a state trooper stood beside an unmarked patrol car, shouting into the wind.
"Don't!" Lt. A.J. Pugh said.
Pugh had been looking for the man, Adriel Gonzalez, 24, of Pinellas Park.
Around 2 p.m. on Friday, Gonzalez's brother called the Florida Highway Patrol, which patrols the bridge around the clock to prevent suicides. 
Gonzalez apparently had missed a court date and was worried about going to jail, authorities said. Depressed, he drove to the Skyway.
Gonzalez, wearing a white tank top and blue jeans, was teary eyed as he straddled the bridge. He looked forward, then down.
"Look at me," Pugh yelled gently. "Just keep looking at me."
"Tell my brother I love him," the man replied.
More state troopers arrived and closed the southbound lanes, snarling traffic for miles.
U.S. Coast Guard boats circled below, prepared to pluck Gonzalez from Tampa Bay.
Gonzalez's brother arrived, knelt down and pleaded with Gonzalez, who continued straddling the bridge.
About 2:50 p.m., Cpl. Frank Greco, a negotiator with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, approached Gonzalez.
"Tell me what's going on," Greco said. "I'm here to help."
They talked about Gonzalez's legal problems, his brother, his life.
After 15 minutes, Greco asked, "Are you ready for me to help you now?"
Gonzalez paused, then nodded.
"Okay, come down," Greco asked.
Gonzalez climbed off the bridge about 3:15 p.m. Greco shook his hand, holding tight in case he had second thoughts.
He was taken to a local hospital for a mental examination, authorities said.
It was unclear Friday what Gonzalez's court hearing was about. He was convicted in 2000 for a sex offense against a child, according to state records.
Since the FHP began its 24-hour bridge patrol in 2000, troopers have talked more than 40 people off the bridge.
05.31.04: save, male
Eugene Ayala-Cruz, 22
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
06.01.04, Paul S., Sarasota, (05.31.04, 3:07am, male, saved), This was a SAVE by the FHP Skyway patrol. 22 y/o male over the side was grabbed and pulled back from the brink...He's cooling his heels in the nut house for a while. Here's a link to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. (link went 404.) I could not find a link to the Bradenton Herald's story, but their story was on the front page of today's local section and was a reprint of a story in the St. Pete Times by Kelly Virella. 

06.01.04, Raven, Satin Pete, (05.31.04, 3am, male, saved) THe guy jumped and a cop grabbed him and hung on.

any more info is welcome.
06.01.04, st. petersburg times, Troopers determine life, death on Skyway, The officers' quick action saves a 22-year-old man just as he jumps off the bridge. By KELLY VIRELLA
ST. PETERSBURG - The moon was so bright atop the Sunshine Skyway bridge that even at 3 a.m. the Florida Highway Patrol trooper could see the eyes of the man preparing to jump.
Wearing a white tank top and blue shorts, he was hanging on the bridge railing, about 200 feet above Tampa Bay.
As the trooper approached, 22-year-old Eugene Ayala-Cruz was saying he had lost both of his jobs. He said he didn't want to live anymore.
Then, he let go.
In an instant, a second trooper lurched for Ayala-Cruz and grabbed his arms.
The two troopers, assisted by two St. Petersburg Fire Rescue officers, pulled the 6-foot, 200-pound man back onto the bridge.
Ayala-Cruz wept.
"It's not worth taking your own life," one of the troopers, Mark Cross, said later Monday. "There's nothing that can't be fixed or corrected."
Ayala-Cruz was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg for 72 hours of observation and psychiatric evaluation.
He became the sixth near-suicide victim to be rescued from the Skyway bridge this year by an FHP trooper.
At least three others have jumped to their deaths, said Trooper Larry Coggins, an FHP spokesman.
When Ayala-Cruz got to the bridge and parked his Honda Accord early Monday morning, he called a friend from his cell phone to say he was jumping, Cross said.
The friend called 911, which dispatched Cross.
Cross hurriedly finished ticketing a speeding driver on the Manatee County side of the bridge and rushed to Ayala-Cruz, who was on the southbound lanes at the top of the arch.
When Cross reached Ayala-Cruz, the man was still on his cell phone.
"He was yelling at me to go back," Cross said. "I kept saying we're not going to take you to jail. That's not what we're here for."
Cross remained 20 to 25 feet away from Ayala-Cruz and continued trying to coax him to safety.
Trooper Daniel Cole arrived moments later, then sneaked up behind Ayala-Cruz.
As Cole approached, Cross' heart was pounding.
He tried to recall his crisis intervention training and his experience with three past suicides, two of which he prevented.
"You have a beautiful little girl," Cross told Ayala-Cruz. "She needs her daddy."
Ayala-Cruz wouldn't listen. 
When he let go of the bridge, Cross thought it was over.
But Cole snagged the arms of Ayala-Cruz.
Until his shift ended at 7 a.m., Cross had the jitters.
It was his first time encountering a jumper on the bridge.
"It was very emotional," Cross said. "After the struggle itself, it was pretty physically exhausting."

06.01.04, TAMPA TRIBUNE, Troopers grab man trying to jump from Skyway bridge. BY JILL KING GREENWOOD
ST. PETERSBURG -- Florida Highway Patrol Troopers Mark Cross and Dan Cole had a split second to decide what to do. The troopers were standing atop the Sunshine Skyway bridge just before 3 a.m. Monday, talking to a man threatening to jump. He was talking to a friend on a cell phone as he stood atop the bridge, Cross said, and told his friend he planned to jump.
The friend called 911, and the call was routed to Cross, on routine patrol looking for stranded motorists, vehicle accidents and potential jumpers along the five-mile stretch of bridge.
When Cross approached the man and began talking to the him, the man already was hanging off the bridge, Cross said.
"Only his upper torso and his right leg were on the inside of the barrier wall," Cross said. "The rest of him was hanging over."
As Cross talked to the jumper, Cole positioned himself toward the man's back and waited. Cross said the jumper told him he "had nothing left to live for" and released his tenuous hold on the bridge wall.
Cole and Cross lunged forward and caught the man before he fell.
"At first I lost sight of him, and I thought he was gone," Cross said. "It was a struggle to get him back over the wall because he really wanted to end it and to jump and he wasn't helping us drag him back over. I guess it was just adrenaline, because he was a big man and we managed to save him."
The troopers, based in Pinellas County, were assisted by two St. Petersburg Fire Department firefighters in pulling the man to safety. The firefighters' names were not available.
Cross said the man was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. FHP Trooper Larry Coggins said the patrol began assigning troopers to around-the-clock bridge patrol in January 2000.
He said that since then, troopers have rescued or prevented 45 people from jumping off the bridge.
05.24.04: jumper, 3:00pm, male, no hotline phones, hit water, died, body found same day
David Gonzalez, 25,
thank jumpnews reporters:
05.24.04, unknown, (male, died) i heard a male hispanic was pushed or possibly jumped around may 23-24 2004 not sure of date by the name of david gonzalez.

05.25.04, Sue, Wa., (05.24.04, male, hit water, died) I learned of this from people working on the bridge.

05.25.04, Milton K., Tampa, FL., (05.24.04, 3:22pm, male, died) male was arguing with girlfriend @ top --- threw his cell phone at her and said "call whoever the F*** you want", got out of car and jumped off bridge. girlfriend called 911 and said "my boyfriend is floating in the F***ing water!". Coast guard recovered the body. please post with my entire alias :) (sorry, milton, we will not print last names due to all the legal crap we'd rather not tangle with, even if it's your fake last name. by the way, how are you privy to this conversation you post here?)

05.25.04, Tim S., Seminole, (05.24.04, 3:00pm) My wife heard our VHF radio call to all boats in the area of the Skyway as there was a reported jumper. For the next 2 hours, the emergency chatter continued. There was also a Pinellas County Sheriff’s call opened in the same time frame at: on the Skyway Bridge.

any more info is welcome.

05.25.04, st. petersburg times, Jumper from Skyway killed; body recovered, By Times Staff Writer,
Hillsborough sheriff's officials said someone died Monday after jumping from the Sunshine Skyway bridge. The person jumped from the center span, and the Coast Guard recovered the body, according to sheriff's officials. No other details were available Monday., Victim, girlfriend were driving on bridge when he stopped and jumped from center span. Body recovered same day.
05.16.04: jumper, 03:00am, female, no hotline phones, hit water, died
Katy Jodat, 23 (unconfirmed)
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
05.19.04, unknown, (05.16.04, 3:07am, female, no hotline phones) police know about this 23 year old woman heard about it through the family could not find anything in the newpaper.

05.23.04, unknown, (05.16.04, female, hit water, died) friend delivered flowers to the funeral that was held today, 5/23/04. dad is a lawyer, wont find it in the papers.

05.28.04, unknown, (05.16.04, 3:00am, female, hit water, died) Her names was Katy Jodat. [last name unconfirmed] she was born 8-23-80. very pretty girl.

05.29.04, unknown, (05.16.04, 3 am, female, no hotline phones, hit water, died) She was 24 and she went to college in Tampa....Her aunt goes to my church. The girls aunt was Lee M. [last name withheld]. She lives in Bradenton Fl.

any more info is welcome., name not available, 23, female, died,
05.31.04, Heather B., New Port Richey, FL., USA, I was just informed that a girl friend of mine may have jumped this year (2004)....23 year old, blonde.... looking for more info about a woman jumper. PLEASE I am very worried. I have not spoke with her in months. thank you-- (we can only assume you mean this particular jumper. we hope we are wrong. good luck.) 

06.02.04, Willie, Bradenton, Florida, I have no real problem with your pool, because you are in no way contributing to the problem... aren't really helping, but aren't hurting either. The problem is all the inaccurate postings that are left, particularly in regard to the suicide on May 16th. What is being said about the person and her problems, especially by Conrad B are incorrect. It's also sad that people who have built relationships with the family, ie Lee M would exploit that relationship by using that relationship to gain access to information and then posting it for the world to see. I am glad that the family doesn't know about this website. I think they would be hurt that people close to them are using this as a way to gossip about a very real loss and tragedy. (we understand much of what we get in the form of jumper news is skewed one way or another due to the passing along of rumors and unknown "facts". we know much of what gets said is wrong to some degree, but being as there is no identity or official accounting for this newsworthy jumper, we feel it's our duty to post most anything said by anyone saying it. this could all be prevented if the news of jumpers were made public like any other killing, death, or murder. conrad's ramble was deleted. the reference of lee m. was simply that, a reference. she was mentioned as someone that went to a church. lee m. exploited nothing and no one.)

06.04.04, Lois L., Clearwater, FL., (05.16.04, female, died) I have a friend who works with a close friend of the family. From what I hear, body has not been recovered. Girl was messed up pretty bad on drugs for some time. Girl was 24. Her car was found on the bridge, witnesses said someone jumped, but again body has not been found. Service was held on May 23. Ironically mother tried to overdose the very same day on script meds but was unsuccessful. was in coma until Friday May 21, when she awoke to the news of daughter's suicide. Person who is close to family is a bit dramatic so some of this news may be exaggerated. (thanks for the news. this is what happens when official news is suppressed like this. people want to know what is going on, so when they don't get the news they should, the rumor mill churns out all the juicy gossip, whether it's true or not.) 

02.13.06, Fiddle Wink, Bradenton, florida, I went to high school with this girl, I am surprised you don't have anymore accurate info. Her name was Katy, she was probably 24, and she jumped. The only obit in the paper said Katy is at peace now... something nice. Didn't mention how she died, but everyone knows. Plus, I have an inside source at the Police Dept. and this person told me this girl did have drug problems and was Baker-acted at least one time. Funny, b/c we also went to high school with Julie Tyson, the math teacher at king. you would never expect this of either of them, Katy was a cheerleader, and Julie was this brain who was super active in clubs and church. (many of our site visitors would rather yell at us instead of giving info on a jumper. most of those that input words about Julie Tyson, did an admirable job of writing positive things about her and not using her space on this site as a forum to bash us. thank you for your input.)

11.02.08, Emily, New Orleans, La., Katy was a friend of mine. She must have called my phone about 9 times that day proior to the fall. I did not receive her messages till she was gone. I wish I would have answered now. She was so beautiful.

11.05.08, Emily, New Orleans, LA., Would you please delete Conrad's info. It's not info, it's crap, and simply untrue. I found this web sight simply looking for answers about Katy. I was close with her, but not with her family, and I didn't feel right calling them and asking them painful questions. Anyway, his/her post is nonsence, and should be removed. (we agree. it's gone.)
03.28.04: save, male
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
03.28.04, anon, Tampa, Fl., Law enforcement have been spotted out with a person on top of the Skyway now 8:40p.

08.28.04, unknown, Name of almost jumper was Timothy Duval of Port Richey Florida was talked out of jumping and the next month took his life with a pistol to the head, leaving behind a wife and 4 children (this report is unconfirmed.)

08.28.04, Hans, This Jumper is the enfant terrible of the VP Trivia room. Hs true pic was posted and he went ballistic..He told a lot of ladies he was lamky, slim Gary Cooper type and it turns out he is Bigger than Al Franken's father (this report is unconfirmed and somewhat bizarre.)

any more info is welcome.
03.28.04, fhp website: Suicide 8:25PM PINELLAS SKYWAY BRIDGE [ST PETERSBURG]
03.29.04, st. petersburg times, FHP trooper pulls man to safety on Skyway,
ST. PETERSBURG - A Florida Highway Patrol trooper pulled a man off the edge of the Sunshine Skyway bridge on Sunday night after a 20-minute stalemate atop the 197-foot-high structure, authorities said. 
Trooper Jeffrey L. Johnson rescued the unidentified man shortly before 9 p.m. as the man began to lose his balance on the bridge's ledge, said FHP Lt. Bruce Doras. Troopers think the man intended to jump.
Doras said the man, who was uninjured, will be placed in the custody of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, which handles suicide threats on the Sunshine Skyway.
Johnson was patrolling the bridge as part of a special detail aimed at curbing suicides when he found the man standing on the ledge.
02.17.04: possible jumper
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
02.17.04, rh, pinellas, 9am, FHP Traffic reports on the net reported a jumper around 9am this date

02.17.04, Merilyn, Oldsmar, FL., Have heard news of jumper this morning around 945 AM, just FYI.

any more info is welcome.
01.27.04: jumper, 8:49pm, male, no hotline phones, hit water, died, body found 2 days later
Derek Helsley, 25
thank you, jumpnews reporters:
01.27.04, Jim H., Largo, 8:30pm, The police are on the scanner live right now looking for the jumper off of the north bound span.

01.27.04, ESP, St. Pete., 9:20pm, Lots of police and fire activity on top of bridge. Coast Guard helicopters/boats searching ship channel below bridge. Cops searching white Buick/Olds type car parked in north bound fast lane shoulder.

01.27.04, mg, largo, 9:00pm, I saw an empty car at the top of the span being searched by police.

01.27.04, Jim H., Largo, Jumper has not been found. Most of the emergency units are calling it off for the night. I guess you will have to watch the newspaper.

01.29.04, Marty P., St. Pete., Body was found near Anna Maria Island. Heard it on the news on the way to work on am970 (got to love 970wfla. we have been listening since early bob lassiter. miss you, bob, may you rest in peace.)

any more info is welcome. 
01.28.04, Hillsborough Sheriff, Derek Helsey, 25, DOB 7-25-78, Palmetto, FL ., Possible suicide/missing adult, On January 27, 2004 at approximately 8:49 p.m. Helsey parked his vehicle (1989 Chrysler) in the northbound lane of Interstate 275 on the Skyway Bridge. Helsey exited his vehicle and walked towards the edge of the bridge. He was never located and his vehicle was running when it was abandoned on the bridge. Helsey was reported missing by his girlfriend (report filed in Palmetto). The Coast Guard and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office helicopter responded and searched with negative results. ***UPDATE*** The body of Derek Helsey was recovered near Anna Maria Island on January 29, 2004 and positively identified

01.29.04, 970 wfla online news: Body Found In Gulf, A body's been found in Tampa Bay, off Anna Maria. Manatee deputies have not identified it, but believe it could be that of a Palmetto man who jumped from the Skyway Wednesday.

01.29.04, Manatee County Sheriff Press Release: RE: BODY IN WATER 
At approximately 2:00 this afternoon, a body was discovered on a sand bar in Tampa Bay about 100 yards off the 500 block of South Bay Blvd., Anna Maria. The body has not been identified. Deputies believe the body may be a man who is thought to have jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge yesterday. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating that case.

01.30.04, Manatee County Sheriff Press Release: RE: BODY IDENTIFIED 
The body found floating in Tampa Bay off Anna Maria yesterday has been identified as 25-year-old Derek Helsley of Palmetto. Notifications have been made to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which recovered Helsley’s vehicle on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge after someone reported seeing a person jump off the bridge Thursday night. (perhaps the last name is misspelled.)

01.30.04, The Bradenton Herald, Police suspect body may be suicide victim, Authorities believe a body found Thursday off Anna Maria Island could be a Palmetto man they suspect jumped off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge earlier this week. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said the man was found around 2 p.m. on a sandbar 100 yards off of the 500 block of South Bay Boulevard. His body was not identified. (thanks, paul s., sarasota, fl.), Parked on northbound side of bridge, jumped. Car found running. Body recovered near Anna Maria Island two days later.
12.21.07, Robin, His name was Derek V. Helsley, make sure you spell his last name right, it was always a pet-peeve of his. As his 4 yr. anniversary is fast approaching I decided to google him out of the blue. I am the surviving girlfriend and I am horrified to have found this site. What purpose does it serve?? There are no winners when someone jumps off the Skyway, trust me I know. This site can never accuratly portray the events of any persons death, so why it exists I don't know, all it does it hurt people...
some time in 2022, SpaceyWay,, i died in 2004 from a suicide jump off the skyway bridge.
hey! i decided to finally share my story that i’ve never really opened up about. i’m F14 and i was born in 2008. but before then i committed suicide off the sunshine skyway bridge in florida.
i remember it like it was yesterday. i don’t remember who i was. but from my hands, height and other features i seemed to be a male, 17-30. i never looked down but when i did i had jeans on and a hoodie. i remember driving to the middle of the bridge, or just near the middle, and i stood up on the ledge. it was dark by now. i didn’t look down at the water. i turned around, closed my eyes and fell backwards. as soon as i hit the water all memories hit a dead end, which is probably where i died. i’ve had this memory for a long as i can remember. i told the story to my mother once when i was around 4-6 but she thought it was just a random dream, even though i’ve never heard of suicide or the skyway bridge (i live in south carolina). i only watched cartoon shows and went on youtube to look at some other stuff from time to time, but never came across anything similar. around a year ago, i found out about which records almost every and all suicide attempts, deaths etc. since 1954. i looked all throughout the forums, before i did, i never knew i died in 2004, but i knew i died between 2000-2007 due to how everything looked. i came across Derek Helsley (M25). here’s a copy and paste
01.27.04: jumper, 8:49pm, male, no hotline phones, hit water, died, body found 2 days later Derek Helsley, 25
this might be a stretch, but this is the closest to what could’ve been me. all the other ones i’ve looked through doesn’t seem to match my description of my memory. but, if anyone has any info on who i was, all help is appreciated!
sorry if this isn’t the best, i’m not the best at describing. (the resulting commentation is as expected.)
2004: save, female
09.21.04, Bob, skywayland, Here is a recent skyway jumper photo I got my hands on. She was a failed jump attempt, her got taken down before she jumped. Not that serious about doing it I suppose. If the host goes down email me and I'll reply with the pic. You may use it on your website. Copyright belongs to me. Taken with a camera phone, sorry for quality. (apparently, this is a photo of a bridge surveillance video camera feed. more of these would be nice, thank you. any more info on this incident is appreciated.)
report jumper news
jumpers by name
audio  •  video
bridge cameras
research for us
top of this page
what's new
comments  •  faq
hate mail
jumper articles
bridge articles
other bridges
the skyway disaster
feel suicidal?
the jump barrier
home page
about this
site map