A suicidal man jumped from the Channel 5 Bridge today; he was later pronounced dead at Fishermen’s Hospital.
Dispatchers received reports of a white sport utility vehicle southbound at the 70 mile marker at 11:15 a.m.; the vehicle reportedly had a hose in the exhaust pipe leading to the cab of the vehicle. They notified deputies to be on the lookout for it.
Deputy Leon Bourcier spotted it on the shoulder of the road at the south end of the Channel Five bridge. As he stopped behind the vehicle, he saw the back hatch open; he saw a man later identified as 50 year old Stephen Gius of Lake Worth, Florida; Gius grabbed the hose leading to the exhaust pipe and pulled it back into the vehicle. Before Deputy Bourcier could intervene, the vehicle then pulled out from the shoulder and began traveling northbound.
Deputy Bourcier called for backup and began following the vehicle as it traveled northbound over the Channel 5 Bridge with several vehicles between them. As the deputy reached the top of the bridge, he saw the SUV had pulled to the side of the road and traffic had come to a stop. A witness ran up to the deputy and told him a man had gotten out of the SUV and had jumped off the bridge.
Deputy Michael Cofield was in the vicinity in his patrol boat. He’d heard the radio traffic about the incident and headed for the area where Gius had jumped off the bridge. He found him floating in the water; he was unresponsive, floating face down.
Deputy Cofield pulled beside Gius and started to pull him into the patrol boat. Suddenly Gius started to fight with him. He broke away from the deputy and began to dive under the surface of the water.
Deputy Cofield waved a nearby fishing vessel over to assist him. He was able to grab Gius by the belt. Two women on board the fishing vessel were able to help and they pulled Gius on board the patrol boat.
Gius was taken to shore where he was turned over to paramedics. He was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.
A handwritten note was found in his vehicle; on one side it said “I lost my wife, my business and my dog”; on the other side it said “sorry mother”.