The circumstances surrounding the death of a Homestead man remain unknown pending an autopsy. His body was found Saturday about 70 feet below the Jewfish Creek Bridge, in a wooded area. His car was found parked at the top of the bridge.
Deputy E.B. Askins responded Saturday at 10:15 a.m. to a report of a suspicious vehicle in the northbound lanes at the top of the bridge. When he checked on it, the blue Jeep had a red tow notice on it from the Florida Highway Patrol, dated Friday, February 28th.
Later Saturday morning, the roommate of the car’s owner called Sheriff’s dispatchers. He said he was traveling into Monroe County for work Saturday morning and saw his roommate’s car parked on the top of the bridge. He said he hadn’t heard from 42 year old Michael Schmidt since Thursday. He said Schmidt called him that day about 4 p.m. to ask him to let his dog out for him. He said he’d not heard from Schmidt since that conversation. The roommate said he’d been in contact with Schmidt’s parents, who said they also had not heard from their son.
The roommate and a friend responded to the bridge to pick up the vehicle so it wouldn’t be towed. They brought a spare key for the car they’d gotten from Schmidt’s parents. They said they found nothing wrong with the car which would cause it to have been abandoned. It reportedly started right up and wasn’t out of gas. The two looked over the edge of the bridge and saw what they believed to be a body about 70 feet below, in a wooded area. They called the Sheriff’s Office to report it.
The body was retrieved from the wooded area with the assistance of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for identification. Due to damage from the fall, the body’s identity was not immediately obvious. The body was identified by fingerprints as Schmidt’s. The circumstances surrounding his death are unknown, although there are no obvious signs or indications of foul play in his death. An autopsy will be done in an attempt to determine the cause of his death.