Cop, construction worker save mom with baby from bridge leap

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A construction worker and a police officer managed to pull an intoxicated woman and her 4-month-old child off the edge of a downtown bridge before she jumped, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Officer Samantha Decker first responded after noticing an abandoned vehicle with a flat tire on the I-95 northbound side of the Overland Bridge, just south of the Main Street Bridge Tuesday evening.

A nearby construction worker flagged Decker down and told her a woman was standing on the edge of the highway with a 50-foot drop below her. She had a female infant in a carrier at her feet.

The worker, Nathan Rinnert, tried to talk with the woman, then grabbed the infant in the carrier.

Rinnert said has a 4-year-old daughter of his own and his instincts just kicked in. He said he knew something wasn't right with the woman and decided to grab the infant before anything bad could happen.

Decker called for backup and Officer Daniel Gaynor responded.

According to Decker and Gaynor, the woman was standing on a small concrete slab about 3-feet-wide, and was uncommunicative.

Police say Gaynor was able to grab her and take her to safety.

Investigators said the woman later admitted to using drugs and liquor earlier in the day and driving around with the baby in her car. 

The woman, a 24-year-old from Palm Coast whom News4Jax is not identifying because she given a mental evaluation, is being charged with child neglect. At a Wednesday afternoon hearing, a Judge John Moran set her bond at $25,003 and appointed a public defender to represent her.

"The jail has a mental health program within it, so when you are arrested and Baker Acted, you will be treated for that as well," JSO Public Information Officer Melissa Bujeda said.

The JSO praised the actions of the worker and officer on the agency's Facebook page.

"We couldn't have asked for a better outcome," Bujeda said. "Because the last thing we would want to be working would be a fatality, or possible fatality with a child."

News4Jax was told the baby is now with her father.

The Department of Children and Families is investigating the incident. 

About the Author:

Vic Micolucci

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 9 a.m. weekday newscast and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.