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Bridge jumper had terminal illness

Kyle Barnett -   Oct 04, 2012

Authorities look over the Hale Boggs Bridge at the Mississippi River after a Kenner man jumped to his death.
Kyle Barnett
Authorities look over the Hale Boggs Bridge at the Mississippi River after a Kenner man jumped to his death.

A disabled man who jumped to his death off the Hale Boggs Bridge last Friday told a deputy that he had a terminal illness and didn’t want to live with the pain.

The body of Pedro Paez, 53, of Kenner, was recovered by a tugboat shortly after the incident. Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange, public information officer with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the deputy noticed someone parked on the shoulder of the bridge and stopped to investigate.

The officer saw that Paez had exited the vehicle and was sitting in a wheelchair. LaGrange said Paez lifted himself out of the wheelchair and onto the bridge’s railing as the officer approached.

"He informed the officer he did not have the will to live and then jumped," LaGrange said. "The officer did try to persuade the subject from jumping however the subject was determined to end his life."

Capt. Pat Yoes said that Paez told the officer he had a terminal illness before he jumped into the river.

Norco resident Blake Duhe was driving across the bridge when he saw Paez sitting on the railing talking to the officer.

"He was just sitting there as calm as could be with his hands sitting on the sides. He just looked like he was watching the river," Duhe said. "Right next to him there was a wheelchair and when I looked a little further I saw the cop car with the lights on. That’s when I realized what was happening. It was so fast I couldn’t even pull over."

Duhe said he continued on his commute to work and did not find out until later in the day that Paez had jumped only moments after he passed the scene.

"It feels kind of eerie to see a person alive like that and then to hear they jumped," Duhe said. "He was as calm as he could be. He must have made up his mind to jump because he went to the very top of the bridge. There wasn’t any doubt that if he was going to jump it was over."

The Luling bridge was also the site of another suicide last July when a 23-year-old Metairie resident jumped to his death.

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