GOOCHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia State Police (VSP) is currently investigating the crash and bridge jumping incident from Tuesday; making more information available in a report on Wednesday.
The crash occurred when a 2004 minivan hit a 2018 gray Ford pickup truck on the northbound Route 288 bridge over the James River Tuesday at 1:45 p.m.
According to police, the minivan was operated by a 40-year-old Black male from Richmond who exited the vehicle following the crash and made a statement to the effect of, “I can’t take this anymore,” before jumping from the bridge into the river below.
8News spoke with a man driving through the area who said he witnessed what happened.
“A gold minivan passes me on the exit ramp onto 288 from Route 60. He passed me on the shoulder– which is not [something people are] supposed to do– going about 80 miles an hour because our trucks have radar,” Dustin Turnmire said. “About five minutes later, I catch back up to him, and as I catch up to him, he crosses the bridge, swerves and hits [a truck]. They crash into the right side of the guardrail. The driver almost immediately gets out of the minivan, jumps onto the guardrail.”
Turnmire said that the driver of the minivan was driving erratically, nearly crashing into several other vehicles before eventually striking the Ford pickup truck on the bridge.
“I kind of see crazy driving all the time,” Turnmire, a truck driver and military veteran, told 8News. “I’ve never seen anybody jump off a bridge.”
Virginia State Police Med Flight was contacted and sent to the area for assistance, as well as the Goochland County Sheriff’s Office, Goochland County Department of Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services, the Water Rescue Team and a Battalion Chief. Powhatan Fire and Rescue and Chesterfield Fire and EMS SCUBA Rescue team were also assisting.
The body of the jumper was recovered and he was pronounced dead at 2:31 p.m.
“A lot of people were pretty shook up while they saw it,” Turnmire said. “But it just makes me a little bit more aware, I guess, while I’m driving.”
While police claim to have identified the male, at the request of his family they have agreed to keep his identity private at this time.
The driver of the gray pickup that was struck remained at the scene when police arrived. He was wearing his seatbelt and was uninjured.
A Virginia State Police spokesperson said that this is being investigated as two separate incidents: a suicide, and the two-vehicle crash that happened moments before.