The Mississippi River search continues for the body of the person who jumped from the top of the Hale Boggs Bridge Dec. 22.
“We have sufficient information that leads us to believe a subject did jump,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cpl. James Grimaldi said. “We feel confident that we know the identity of the subject due to witness statements and other collected property. Immediately after responding, a vehicle was located and other property.”
According to the sheriff’s office, shortly after 5:45 p.m. Dec. 22 officers responded to an abandoned vehicle located on top of the bridge at mile post 7.2, Northbound.
During the course of the investigation, detectives learned that a witness observed someone standing near the railing by the vehicle and called 911 in an attempt to have a deputy check on the driver. When deputies arrived, they were unable to locate the operator of the vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office.
As of Jan. 4, Grimaldi said the body had yet to be recovered.
“During incidents like these there is an immediate response, almost always including the Port Authority, U.S. Coast Guard and sheriff’s office,” Grimaldi said. “In addition, one of the most valuable assets to a search like this are the tugboats, ships and other river pilots that are out doing their normal job. These individuals immediately pull away from their normal responsibilities and begin search efforts on the river, which often is seconds after we receive the initial 911 call.”
Grimaldi said the non-police marine responders are normally who ends up finding the body in a situation like a bridge jumper, because many of them can be at the site within seconds of a marine call.
“We also have various businesses along the river that already have vessels on the river 24/7 that informally continue search efforts while preforming their normal duties,” he said.
Grimaldi said it is always important for drivers to call if they see someone stopped on the bridge.
“If someone is commuting across the Hale Boggs Bridge and witnesses any vehicle on the shoulder of the roadway, we urge them to contact the sheriff’s office by dialing 911,” he said. “The vehicle you see may be a stranded motorist, or someone wishing to harm themselves, or it may be absolutely nothing, but your telephone call may save a life. If we receive 100 calls that turn out to be false alarms, but one call that results in us helping an individual, then it was all worth it.”
Grimaldi said after contacting 911 the caller should, if possible, drive to a bridge park and speak with a deputy or detective about what they witnessed.
“If you are unavailable to stop at a park, please provide our dispatcher with a contact number where you can be reached,” he said. “Small details that you may find insignificant may play a vital role in determining what took place in an incident.”
If anyone has information about the Dec. 22 incident, they are urged to contact Det. Kevin Tennison of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office at 985-783-1135 or call 985-783-6807.