Search called off for potential Chattahoochee River jumper

benw@ledger-enquirer.com, tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 8, 2014 

A reported jump from the Dillingham Street Bridge late Tuesday may have been part of a stunt on the Chattahoochee River, authorities said Wednesday.

Robert Futrell, deputy chief of operations for the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services, said a wet and muddy man picked up by an ambulance in the 1000 block of First Avenue matches the same description given by a witness of the bridge jumper. The man, about 18-19 years old, had curly blond hair and wore black basketball shorts and no shirt.

Keith Brooks, who was looking south from the Phenix City Amphitheater, said it appeared the jump was being recorded by someone on the east side of the river bank beneath the bridge. Police said the report of the jump came at 8:22 p.m.

“We know there was someone with a video camera and there is a possibility they might have been doing something for a YouTube video,” Futrell said. “There is a good possibility we will be seeing this on YouTube pretty soon.”

Futrell said police wanted to talk with the man but he slipped out of Midtown Medical Center before they could reach him.

A crew of 10 firefighters, including a dive team from the downtown fire station, searched beneath the bridge for almost an hour before suspending the operation Tuesday.

Fire Marshal Ricky Shores said dive teams returned to the area Wednesday but were called off around 9:30 a.m. The search was complicated by conflicting information from numerous sources, he said.

“You want to give these things the benefit of the doubt in case someone did jump in,” he said. “But based on the fact that we have no more credible information the search has been called off.”

While there is an indication the man might have gotten out of the river, the dive team did a thorough search before it was called off. “They said the water was so low, they could actually see the bottom,” Futrell said.

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