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Off-duty Winter Haven firefighter tries to save man who jumped off the Sunshine Skyway

Firefighter was fishing in nearby boat
Posted: 10:00 PM, Jul 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-11 09:23:31-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida Highway Patrol troopers said they responded to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Tuesday afternoon after a man jumped off the structure.

Off-duty firefighter and EMT Tim Magee heard a splash and saw the man in the water.

"He just kept saying help me, help me," said Magee.

Magee didn't think twice. He was with six people in a boat when they rushed over to help the man.

"He said he jumped and from there, we had to get his name and age from the Coast Guard," said Magee. 

Magee has worked as a firefighter for the city of Winter Haven for nearly 10 years. 

"I was very surprised, he was still alive. Even at 30 feet, you are most likely going to die from that fall," said Magee.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the man who jumped was taken to a hospital but later died.

FHP said the Skyway Bridge ranks as one of the most common bridges in the country for people taking their own lives.

FHP said three people died in 2017 from jumping off the bridge. In 2016 and 2015, 12 people died. 

There are six telephones across the Skyway Bridge for people to use if they are contemplating suicide. The phones connect to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. 

Intervention Specialists say look for warning signs including isolation or a change in a loved one's behavior. 

"Feeling hopeless and saying they're a burden to their family or friends," said Liza Cepeda, Program Manager. 

The Crisis Center said it has seen an increase in calls, but that's a positive thing because it means people are getting help. 

If you or a loved one needs help you can call 211 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.