Body of HHS grad found in Jefferson Parish
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies searched the Mississippi River the body of James Sierra III until it was discovered in Jefferson Parish this afternoon.
The body of 21-year-old James Erwin Sierra III, of Luling, was found at 12:30 p.m. today.
Capt. Pat Yoes, public information officer with the Sheriff’s Office, said an autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death.
The discovery of Sierra's body comes four days after deputies found his abandoned vehicle parked at the top of the Hale Boggs Bridge at 2:51 a.m. Sunday with its engine running and lights on. Inside was a suicide note.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, a license was discovered that belonged to Sierra, a 2011 graduate of Hahnville High School.
The Sheriff’s Office marine division, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Port of South Louisiana led an ongoing search for Sierra along the Mississippi River.
A former classmate of Sierra's, Rex Gordon Putnam III, expressed his regrets over not reaching out to his old friend more often.
“Its sad to know an old high school friend has [passed] and in a horrible way. He was a great guy and friend. Wish we stayed in touch like we did in high school. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. It’s hard to see another great mind and soul gone so young and so quickly,” he said.
Former classmate Linnie Lane said she has fond memories of Sierra.
“Praying for the family. He was everyone’s school buddy,” she said.
This is the fifth time someone has jumped to their death off of the Hale Boggs Bridge in the past two years.
In September 2012, a disabled man parked at the top of the bridge and used a wheelchair to get to the bridge’s railing. After he hoisted himself onto the railing, an officer tried to talk him down for several minutes but the man eventually jumped into the water.
In October 2012, 20-year-old Gretna resident Jake Bodden jumped off of the Hale Boggs. His body was recovered by family members four days later.
Jack Culotta, who was the managing partner of The Culotta Law Firm, jumped off the bridge in July 2013. His body was pulled out of the river near the ADM Growmark grain elevator. A witness saw Culotta pull his white Ford Explorer over at the top of the bridge, exit the SUV and jump over the railing without any hesitation.
In August 2013 Debbie Johnson, a former teacher from Destrehan, jumped off the bridge. A witness told authorities that she saw Johnson, 55, exit the car, run to the railing and jump into the water below. Her body was recovered downriver the next day in Ama.
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