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Man is hospitalized after jumping from Sunshine Skyway

ST. PETERSBURG — A man who had been arguing with his girlfriend in a car jumped off the Sunshine Skyway bridge Thursday night — and survived the fall.

Firefighters aboard a St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue boat rescued the 21-year-old man about 9:30 p.m. He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, said Lt. Joel Granata, a fire department spokesman.

His name and his condition were not available.

Granata said the man's girlfriend dialed 911 from atop the bridge's center span about 8:40 p.m. She told dispatchers that she and her boyfriend had been arguing while she was driving north over the bridge. He asked her to stop, which she did, Granata said.

The man said something about going to the bathroom and walked away from the car. Then he jumped, Granata said.

The fall from the highest point of the center span is nearly 200 feet. The fall from the very top takes a person to a speed of about 75 mph; the impact with the water occurs in 3.5 seconds.

According to a St. Petersburg Times story from 2009, more than 130 people had died jumping from the bridge since it opened in 1987. About a dozen others had survived the fall.

Granata said rescuers found the man on some rocks below the bridge. He said the man either swam to the rocks or was pushed by the current. Two divers swam to the rocks, put the man in a flotation device and brought him to the rescue vessel, Granata said.

Officials with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over that part of the bridge, confirmed they were investigating a case in which a man who had been with his girlfriend jumped from the bridge and survived.

Man is hospitalized after jumping from Sunshine Skyway 05/05/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 5, 2011 11:17pm]
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