Monday, August 18, 2008

The Man Who Jumped

The identity of the man who jumped (or fell?) from the SH 45 flyover last week has still not been released.

It is most curious. As I wrote the day after it happened, a fatal motorcycle accident had just occurred below the flyover and emergency workers were on the scene when this second fatality occurred.

Police say that a man parked his vehicle on the flyover, walked to a point directly over the accident scene, and fell the equivalent of ten stories to his death, right onto the pavement of the I-35 frontage road. At the time, police described it as an “apparent suicide.”

And yet, the next day the investigation was turned over to the Texas Rangers, the elite investigative arm of the Department of Public Safety. And days later, the man’s name has still not been released.

It is most curious, and the Austin news media has had nothing to say on the matter, because of course law enforcement officials are telling them nothing. At least not on the record.

Yes, it is most curious …

But, for what it’s worth, in the interim—that is, until someone answers the people’s right to know what happened—individuals have been posting comments on the Austin American-Statesman’s website that may, or may not, throw light on the mysterious “Case of the Man Who Jumped.” Comments such as the following …

By kitty
August 14, 2008 7:58 PM
I actually saw the whole thing. I work in a building where everything can been seen from our desk. IT was very very tragic thing to watch. I could not believ my eyes. if you would have seen it I doubt you would make comments like you are. To see that man hang from the edge and then just fall was horrible. I can’t believe the comments that are being made here. Yes it was a selfish thing to do but atleast show the man some respect.

By rub
August 15, 2008 6:39 PM
according to my friend who works in the building that faces this over pass here is what happened: there was a motorcycle accident at the frontage road and the driver died. then while the police and paramedics were all there at the scene, a man in a white truck stopped on the overpass directly above them. (this is the one that is very high that connects the mopac toll road to northbound I35.) and then he either falls or jumps. the lady that saw it happen in the building said he was hanging for a second by his hands, then fell.

August 15, 2008 7:58 PM
My son goes to school at the Art institute of Austin, it is located on the southwest side of the intersection. His class was outside drawing landscape pictures. My son was drawing the overpass and skyline behind it when the jumper stopped on the overpass got out of the white truck which struck my son as being odd, as he was informing the class about it the person then jumped. He tells me he doesn’t remember the person hanging at all, just that they got out walked over to the edge and jumped.

By Stuart
August 15, 2008 6:26 PM
I witnessed the man fall through the air from the overpass. I haven’t read any of the comments and probably won’t. As a witness, I’ll post what I witnessed.
While driving northbound on IH-35 I saw a man holding onto the edge of the flyover from IH-35 to East Texas 45. When I say I saw him holding on, I mean his left arm and his left leg were attached to the top of cement rail of the flyover. His back was exposed to the view of drivers traveling north on IH-35. I’ve given it some thought and don’t believe it was his intent to end his life. I believe if it was his intent to end his life, he would have jumped head first or feet first from the rail. Instead he was hanging from the rail in a manner inconsistant with that of a man intending to kill himself. I can speculate many option; he wanted people to see him and think he was going to kill himself, or he was looking at the motorcycle accident which, according to the information I have read, happend shortly before. He fell from the rail at 3:46 pm according to the clock in my vehicle. This occurred on August 14, 2008. The man was wearing a light blue shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes. He was alive during his fall through the air. There were three vehicles parked on the flyover in the vicinity of where the man decended. Later I saw people standing near the rail and realized the rail is not as high as I originally thought. Although I saw three vehicles, I did not see any other people standing on the flyover as the man decended.

So there you have it. The majority of witnesses, or at least people claiming to be witnesses, state that the man did not exactly jump, but clung to the railing before plummeting to the asphalt below.

Then, there are comments such as the following …

By Henna
August 15, 2008 3:47 PM
Oddly enough, my neighbor didn’t come home last night after work and there was two detectives at his house for about 3 hrs talking to his girlfriend for some reason. We live less than a mile from Louis Henna Blvd.

And this …

By ldh
August 15, 2008 5:50 PM
I have been looking for an update on this story myself and I have been looking at all of the local news websites. On the KEYE website, I saw something interesting. They are showing a clip of the scenes of the accidents, this is just a clip with no reporter. Now, here is what is strange, we have been told the first accident was due to a motorcyclist running a red light however, in the clip they show two completely different motorcycles and if you turn the volume up real high you can here someone talking and it sounds like they are saying “apparently the motorcycle flew off of the on-ramp”. Now I am getting the impression that the second accident, the “jumper” was possbily on a motorcycle too???? Look at the clip and see what you think. But it is very obivious there are two different motorcycles in this clip. Which would make a little sense as to why they have not given more information about the second accident because how freaky is that to have two accidents totally unrelated, in almost the same spot and both involving a motorcycle and they are trying to figure out how the “jumper” could have possibly gone off of 45 onto 35 frontage while on a motorcycle. I work near this area and at 7:30 last night there were still a few vehicles up on 45 as if they were still investigating.

By JD07
August 15, 2008 6:59 PM
according to reports they say that the jumper drove his truck up onto the ramp of 45 and then jumped from there, the reason there are two motorcycles on the video is because there were two guys riding when one of them got hit by the car.

By Webber
August 15, 2008 2:32 PM
I was going north to Georgetown from Barnes and Noble in LaFrontera at that time….traffic wasn’t very heavy…if someone caused the accident by cutting off the cyclist or whatever, they would have had time to circle around and go back to the flyover…maybe they fell trying to look over…it seems too coincidental to be unrelated…does anyone know if a car was left by the jumper? or if the police think it’s related, even if the person wasn’t directly involved in the cyclist accident?

I was in the area myself at the time of the accident. As reported last week on this blog, I passed through that very intersection minutes before the accident occurred. Since writing that post, I have been able to better pinpoint the time.
The time stamp on the receipt I received at Grapevine Market shows that I made my purchase at 3:29 pm, one minute before the motorcycle accident occurred. It could not have taken me longer than five minutes to drive from the intersection to Grapevine Market and make my purchase. Therefore, I passed through the intersection at approximately 3:24 pm.

As I noted on this blog last week, I stared up at the flyover while waiting for the light to change at that intersection. Did something catch my eye? I don’t know, or at least can’t remember. All I know is that, for the first time since the flyover was completed over a year ago, I found myself contemplating the flyover’s great height (about ten stories, according to news reports).

I then drove on to Grapevine Market. At 3:29 I made my purchase. I got in my car and drove away down Hester’s Crossing. Around this time, 3:30 or 3:31, the accident at the intersection of I-35 and SH 45 happened.

Did I see anything unusual as I drove down Hester’s Crossing (westbound away from I-35)? All I can remember is that I made a lane change, prior to which I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw a grayish, sporty, compact car approaching, far enough away to safely make my lane change. Yet, seconds later, after I made the lane change, the car was on my tail. I made a left turn onto La Frontera. The car followed me, then shot around me at a high rate of speed. The last time I saw it was waiting to turn left on Lewis Henna, in the opposite direction it had just come, towards the accident scene.

Does this mean anything? Maybe not. I’m just searching my memory …
The next thing that happened was that I returned to Wal-Mart to pick up the prescription I had forgotten. Twenty minutes had passed since I was last in the intersection and now it was filled with police and emergency vehicles.

I also saw a black motorcycle lying in front of a large white vehicle of some kind, a pickup I thought at the time (my vision is a little fuzzy without glasses at that distance). I may have seen a body lying on top of the motorcycle—it seemed to me the shape was larger than it should have been, had it only been a motorcycle—but, again, my vision was fuzzy.

As for the man who jumped, I did not see him. There was not time to examine the scene more closely, because a cop directing traffic was shouting “GO!” to the rubber-necking drivers …