Jumper saved after man pulls her to safetyPublished 10:34pm Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9 to include the woman’s identity and residence.
Details are still unclear surrounding an incident involving an Opelika woman who jumped off the Edmund Pettus Bridge Tuesday evening.
Selma resident Cedric Lewis, was driving across the bridge but said he stopped when he saw the woman’s gold Toyota come to a stop on the bridge.
“I was coming across the bridge towards Selmont from Selma and she was on the opposite side [of the road]. She exited out the passenger side of her vehicle and started walking up the bridge to the middle,” Lewis said. “Then she jumped and swam to the other side.”
Lewis said he stopped his car on top of the bridge.
“I watched her cross over the rail,” he said, adding that just after the victim jumped, he was able to flag down a Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy who was driving across the bridge.
Doug Bacon, 29, was also driving across the bridge and saw the woman on the outside the bridge’s railing. After realizing the woman had jumped, Bacon drove to the Selmont side of the bridge, stripped down to his briefs, jumped in the river and swam out to rescue her.
“I was driving over the bridge and saw her holding on to the side and then looked back and saw she wasn’t there so I figured she jumped,” Bacon said.
Upon reaching the woman, Bacon said she was still breathing.
“There were a couple guys fishing who saw it too, but they were still farther down,” Bacon said. “By the time I brought her closer to the edge I was completely out of energy. I thought I was going under.”
Bacon said one of the fishermen helped him drag the woman out of the water.
“There was an older black man with a cane but he ducked out before all the people came,” Bacon said. “He held my phone and my wallet when I jumped in.”
Bacon was traveling to Auburn University, where he is a student.
“I was just eager to get back to Auburn,” he said. “I never expected this.”
Emergency officials quickly responded and immediately began providing treatment, including trying to warm her.
Due to the steep incline of the riverbank, it appeared officials were unable to pull her to the nearby emergency vehicles. Instead, the Selma Dallas County Fire Rescue Squad, who launched their boat from the Selma City Marina, arrived to transport the victim back to the marina, where Air Evac was waiting to transport her to a regional medical facility.
The woman was airlifted to Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery. Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said, when the woman was picked up she was conscious.
“She was alive and breathing,” Riley said.
Another officer said she was moaning and groaning when he saw her.
Riley said she was conscious and responsive. Her condition was serious but not critical.
The woman’s car, left on the bridge, was moved by A-1 Wrecker Service. Police officers on the bridge said they were moving her car off the bridge because it was a traffic hazard, but once they got in touch with a family member they came to pick it up.
The woman was identified Wednesday as Opelika resident Priscilla Woods. She is continuing to recover at Baptist South in Montgomery.
Staff writer Sarah Cook contributed to this report.