ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A 43-year-old man was pulled from the Mississippi River following an accident Thursday morning on the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.
The St. Louis Fire Department Marine Rescue Task Force was called to search around 8:30 a.m. after the man fell 100 feet into the Mississippi River. He was wearing a hospital gown during the crash. St. Louis firefighters say the man jumped.
Traffic was backed up in the area as first responders attempted to determine what happened and clear the accident scene.
According to Officer Michelle Woodling, a spokeswoman for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, when officers first arrived at the bridge, they saw a vehicle struck a guardrail on the bridge. The driver got out of the vehicle, climbed over the railing, and leaped from the bridge into the Mississippi River.
St. Louis Fire Department Marine Rescue Task Force divers were sent into the water to find the man. The man was rescued by boat about a mile down the river just south of the Poplar Street Bridge.
The rescuers said when they spotted the man he had been in the water for about 18 to 20 minutes and was close to going under.
Firefighter Tyler Prater, 23, jumped in the water in his dry suit and life vest to rescue the man. His fellow firefighters held onto Prater with a rope. The man was taken to the shore by a vessel near the Gateway Arch.
“He had just about his nose and his face above the water. There was some intense shivering going on. I jumped off the boat and I swam out to him. Usually, you find a little panic, a panic victim…he was pretty well out of it,” Prater said. “I came up behind him, held his head up above the water and my partner pulled me in by the rope.”
The river can be very dangerous near St. Louis. The rain has also put a lot of debris into the water. The confluence of Mississippi and Missouri rivers is just north of town.
Prater said the man was only wearing a t-shirt and a hoodie when he found him. The man also had a hospital wristband on.
Police said the accident victim had non-life threatening injuries and was conscious when he was rescued.
Police have described the episode as a suicide attempt.
Watch the rescue here: