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St. Pete woman survives jump from Sunshine Skyway

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:49 PM

A St. Petersburg woman jumped Thursday morning from the Sunshine Skyway and survived the 174-foot fall to Tampa Bay, officials said.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper saw the 35-year-old woman trying to swim about 7:30 a.m. The trooper hung a flare from the bridge to guide rescuers to the location.

A nearby fisherman in his boat got to the woman first, and he and his friend pulled her from the Bay and called 911, officials said. A rescue boat then arrived and took the woman to O'Neill's Marina, officials said.

"Lucky the guys in the fishing boat saw her when they did. … They saved her life," St. Pete Fire Rescue Capt. Tim White said.

St. Pete Fire Rescue transported the woman with injuries to Bayfront Medical Center, White said.

She was listed in stable condition.

The woman was alert and talking to deputies before going to the hospital, deputies said.

The woman pulled her car over at the highest point of bridge – about 174 feet over Tampa Bay – at 7:19 a.m., White said in a news release. Video from the bridge showed her car stopping on the northbound side.

The woman got out of her car and sat on the edge of the bridge before jumping, St. Pete Fire Rescue said.

A witness driving on the bridge noticed a woman sitting on the main span with her legs hanging over the rail, Hillsborough deputies said. The witness returned to scene, but the woman had already jumped.

According to records from 2009, an average of about nine people per year attempt to commit suicide by jumping from the Skyway, the Interstate 275 link between Pinellas and Manatee counties.

More than 140 have jumped since the existing cable span opened in 1987. Only three bridges are known to top that: the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Aurora Bridge in Seattle and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

This year, three people have jumped, and two survived, according to records.

On Feb. 3, a 36-year-old Pinellas Park man survived the leap from the main span. On June 16, a 20-year-old man died after jumping.

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