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Man apparently calls 911, then dies after leap from the Howard Frankland Bridge, officials say

Published Jul. 21, 2012

TAMPA — A man who died Friday morning after jumping off the Howard Frankland Bridge apparently called 911 earlier in the day from a home in Hernando County, according to sheriff's officials.

A man dialed 911 at 10:22 a.m. and said "hospital" before leaving an address and hanging up, authorities said.

When rescue personnel arrived at the home, they found what was described as a "crime scene," Hernando County sheriff's officials said.

No one was at the home, but authorities suspected that someone inside had recently been seriously injured. They put out an alert for deputies to be on the lookout for a maroon SUV belonging to the home's residents.

Just before noon, 911 operators near Tampa received calls saying a man had jumped from the highest point of the northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge.

The unidentified man was dead in the water by the time rescue crews arrived.

He jumped after getting out of a maroon SUV, authorities said.

"Why he jumped off the bridge? We don't know," said Lt. Donny Peter, who responded to the scene.

State troopers and Tampa police officers congregated on the shoulder of the Howard Frankland with a man who was believed to have been driving the SUV.

The body was brought ashore via the Courtney Campbell Parkway boat ramp, police said.

Peter said the Howard Frankland is an unusual spot for jumpers, but he declined to call the incident a suicide.

"I don't want to call it a suicide or a homicide or anything yet," he said. "All we know is that for some reason, somebody jumped off the bridge."

The cause of death will be determined by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office.

Officials did not immediately identify the man, pending the notification of family members.

An investigation is ongoing.

Marissa Lang can be reached at or (727) 893-8804.