Body of man who jumped off De Soto Bridge recovered in Manatee River

Authorities not releasing nameof man who died

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 21, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Law enforcement officials confirmed they found the body of a man who jumped Wednesday off the De Soto Bridge.

A Manatee County Marine Unit deputy spotted the body in the water Thursday morning near where the man is said to have jumped.

Palmetto Police Deputy Chief Scott Tyler said they will not release any more information about the individual at this time. The family of the owners who registered the vehicle left on the bridge Wednesday have been in contact with police

and will be asked to identify the body at the medical examiner's office.

The 911 call came in at 3:38 p.m. Wednesday when witnesses reportedly saw a man get out of his vehicle and jump in the Manatee River. Tyler said witnesses on the bridge saw the driver ram his white Volkswagen into the side of the railing in an apparent attempt to make it go over. Failing that, he stopped the car, got out and jumped off the bridge.

Authorities say another witness saw the incident from the Bradenton Riverwalk.

Search and rescue crews from various agencies, including Palmetto and Bradenton police, Bradenton Fire Rescue, North River Fire District, Manatee County EMS, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, searched until sunset.

At the time of the incident the tide was going out. Coast Guard officials said the water depth was between 4 to 10 feet.

Traffic was briefly interrupted late Wednesday afternoon when police closed off the southbound lanes of the bridge to tow the vehicle.

The recovery operation resumed Thursday morning with the Manatee Sheriff's Office helicopter back in the air and various agency boats in the water.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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