Man found alive in Chesapeake after jumping off bridge

November 11, 2018

CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — A man who jumped off the Frank “Gunner” Gatski Memorial Bridge late Friday night was found around 1:45 a.m. Saturday, alive and alert, more than three miles from where he went into the water and nearly two hours after the search for him was called off for the night.

A call came in to Cabell County 911 about 11 p.m. Friday that a man had jumped from the bridge, also known as the East Huntington Bridge and the 31st Street Bridge.

The man was in the water when crews arrived, and went under the water and hadn’t resurfaced 30 minutes after he jumped. At the time, officials said the river was “moving really fast,” and the search was called off around midnight. Rescue crews were evaluating the weather to formulate a plan that was to continue the following morning.

According to members of the Chesapeake (Ohio) Volunteer Fire Department, the man was found on the riverbank near a residence in the 100 block of Rockwood Avenue in Chesapeake when the homeowner heard screaming coming from the area of the river.

The man, who has not been identified, ended up on the riverbank 3.5 miles from the bridge off of which he had jumped.

VFD officials said first responders strapped the man to a backboard and dragged him up the steep incline. He then was transported to Cabell Huntington Hospital to be treated.

Hypothermia was a concern for first responders as temperatures dipped into the upper 30s overnight. According to the National Weather Service in Charleston, the water temperature in the Tri-State area around midnight was around 50 degrees.

The man is suspected to have been in the water for nearly three hours.

VFD officials said the man was alert but obviously in pain when he was rescued. The drop from the bridge to the water is estimated to be approximately 100 feet.

According to Herald-Dispatch archives, another man survived a jump off the bridge in July 2013. He was rescued shortly after he made contact with the water.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne on Twitter and Facebook @megosborneHD.

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