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Boaters save man who jumped from bridge

Jul. 04, 2013 @ 11:43 PM

HUNTINGTON -- While celebrating the Fourth of July holiday Thursday evening, a group of local boaters didn't expect to become heroes.

But that was the scenario in which four men found themselves Thursday night after a young man jumped off the 31st Street Bridge into the Ohio River in what Huntington Police officers have ruled an attempted suicide.

A man traveling on the bridge toward Ohio crashed into the concrete barrier in an attempt to drive off the bridge at 8:35 p.m., said Huntington Police Officer J. Talbert.

Taylor Moore, 18, of Huntington, said she was sitting on her family's boat at Adams Landing Marina in Guyandotte when she saw the crash happen.

"When he hit the side of the bridge, he just walked to the front of the car, climbed on the bridge and jumped off," said Moore. "He didn't even stop. He just dropped down."

She immediately yelled to her father, Newt Moore, who said he turned around just in time to see the man hit the water.

Both of the Moores said they could see the man's head bobbing up and down in the water, and to their surprise, he began to swim toward the shore.

Newt Moore and three other men, Tom Nibert of Proctorville, along with Bill Toney and Mike Floyd, both of Huntington, jumped onto Moore's boat and traveled on the river to try and help the man, who managed to swim to the shore and was clinging to tree limbs.

"We told him he needed to let go of the trees and to come to us, and we jerked him up onto the boat," said Newt Moore. "His first words were, 'I want to die.'"

By the time the boat pulled up to the Guyandotte boat ramp at 8:41 p.m., Huntington Police officers, West Virginia State Troopers and Cabell County EMTs were waiting for them.

The man appeared to be intoxicated at the scene, said Talbert, but he was conscious when emergency responders transported him to St. Mary's Medical Center.

No charges had been filed in connection with the incident Thursday evening, and information about the man, including his age, was unavailable.

Nibert said he and his family spend a lot of time on the river.

While he was glad he was able to help the man, he said he was just as glad to turn the man's care over to emergency personnel.

"We spend a lot of weekends here. We see a lot of things happen on the bridge, and it is what it is," said Nibert. "We've never seen someone jump, but fortunately there was a boat ready here, and we got out there pretty quick.

"That guy is going to need more help than we were able to give him if he is going to get better."

Follow Lacie Pierson via Twitter @LaciePiersonHD.

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