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Bradenton woman survives jump from Sunshine Skyway

ST. PETERSBURG — A woman parked her car atop the Sunshine Skyway bridge on Monday and walked right to the edge.

Then she jumped, falling almost 200 feet from the highest point of the bridge to the water.

"There was no hesitation," said St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata.

The 41-year-old Bradenton woman survived, authorities say, but she suffered life-threatening injuries.

Her identity was withheld by authorities.

The Skyway is one of the nation's most-used bridges for suicides, where a jumper can hit the water at around 75 mph in just 3.5 seconds. Most jumps from the tallest part of the span are fatal, but the Bradenton woman is not alone in surviving a fall from the top.

In September, a 43-year-old woman survived the plunge with back pain and facial lacerations. She was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, which was boarding another boat just a few hundred yards away.

The Coast Guard's proximity was key in Monday's rescue, as well.

Several witnesses saw the woman stop her brown Dodge Neon on the bridge and jump about 2:07 p.m., according to fire rescue.

Within minutes, a nearby boater came to her aid, followed by a 41-foot Coast Guard utility boat that was training with a Coast Guard helicopter nearby.

The HH-60 Coast Guard helicopter lowered its rescue swimmer, a trained paramedic, to the deck to help treat the injured woman.

The Coast Guard vessel brought her to O'Neill's Marina in St. Petersburg, where she was treated by St. Petersburg Fire Rescue paramedics and then taken to Bayfront Medical Center.

Her exact condition and injuries were unknown Monday. St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Jake Nyhart said she was conscious and talking to paramedics, but also was badly hurt.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Did you know?

More suicides were attempted on the Skyway last year than in any year since 2000, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. There were 29 people threatening to jump in 2008, compared to 18 the year before. Nine of those jumpers died.

Bradenton woman survives jump from Sunshine Skyway 05/04/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 4, 2009 10:38pm]
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