A Bradenton charter fishing captain rescued a woman who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Thursday morning.
Capt. Kris Winkel of Tailing Tales Charter Fishing was with several clients in the south side of the channel when they heard a commotion coming from the bridge.
"I thought the guy yelling from the bridge was going to jump," Winkel said.
While scanning the water, he noticed what appeared to be a crab trap marker in an unusual location.
"It went under as we started going that way and popped back up. I realized it was somebody," Winkel told the Bradenton Herald.
He said the woman, who was in the north side of the channel, waved to them. Winkel's crew brought the woman aboard and called for help.
Several people on Winkel's boat have served as EMS personnel or have military backgrounds, and they knew how to help the woman until she was transferred to a St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue boat.
"She was coherent and talking. She told us her name," Winkel said. "She wanted to live, you could tell that."
Winkel said her pupils were dilated and she appeared to have a broken leg.
"Lucky the guys in the fishing boat saw her when they did. ... They saved her life," Capt. Tim White, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue incident commander, said in a news release.
The woman, in her mid- to late-30s, was taken with injuries to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg in stable condition.
The woman had parked her vehicle in a southbound lane at the highest point on the bridge, sitting on the edge before she made the 174-foot jump, according to St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue.
It is rare for people to survive the jump, said Lt. Joel Granata, Fire and Rescue spokesman. Survival depends on factors such as the weather, the person's ability to swim and the way they land. In many cases, the injuries are internal.
"Around the holidays, we see an increase in jumps," Granata said, referencing the Fourth of July.
The Florida Department of Transportation observed the parked vehicle at the bridge and dispatched public safety personnel with a bridge alert. The Florida Highway Patrol determined someone jumped, triggering the rescue boat's response.
"We send crews to the bridge to determine whether someone jumped or not," Granata said. "We don't want to send a boat every time a car is stopped."
A flare was hanging over the bridge above the victim's head to guide the rescue boat, Granata said.
Emergency personnel were yelling to Winkel from atop the bridge when they were unable to reach him via radio.
"He was glad he was in the right place at the right time," Granata said.
According to skywaybridge.com, the woman is the second person to survive the jump this year. Three others have fallen to their deaths.
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.