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‘My car flipped over the bridge’: 911 calls released in Dames Point Bridge crash

‘I’m in the water and freezing,’ 27-year-old driver tells operator

Jacksonville Fire-Rescue photo of driver being hoisted out of the St. Johns River after his car went off the Dames Point Bridge.
Jacksonville Fire-Rescue photo of driver being hoisted out of the St. Johns River after his car went off the Dames Point Bridge.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 27-year-old man called 911 moments after a crash on the Dames Point Bridge sent his car plunging into the St. Johns River.

News4Jax on Thursday obtained audio of seven calls from people who called 911 to report the Feb. 6 crash. The 911 call from the 27-year-old driver was 9 minutes long.

Driver: “I got into a wreck on the Dames Point going to Arlington. My car flipped over the bridge. I’m in the water and freezing!”

Operator: “Yes, sir. Stay on the phone with me. We have police and fire on the way, OK?”

Driver: “I’m in the water.”

Operator: “Are you able -- are you still inside the water?”

Driver: “No. Yeah, I’m sitting on the car.”

Operator: “You’re still in the vehicle?”

Driver: “I’m on top of it.”

The operator does a good job of keeping him calm. During the call, he says several times he’s freezing and needs help. Toward the end, you can hear people up on the bridge yelling to him.

A crash report shows the 27-year-old man was cited with driving too fast for conditions and driving on an invalid license. The report says it was raining and the roadway was wet.

According to the report, the 27-year-old was driving a Chrysler in the center lane of southbound Interstate 295 on the Dames Point Bridge when the front of the car collided with the rear of an Acura driven by a 38-year-old man. The Chrysler then collided with the concrete barrier of the bridge and was struck by the Acura, causing the Chrysler to go over the concrete barrier and into the St. Johns River.

City Councilman Al Ferraro told News4Jax that he and his wife witnessed the crash and a light pole landed in front of their truck. Some of the 911 callers reported the downed light pole.

“It’s kind of dangerous cause of the light pole halfway in the highway people keep running over,” one caller says.

Another caller says: “I just ran over a light pole.”

Police and firefighters got to the scene of the accident within minutes, leading to a rescue in which firefighters used a ladder and ropes to drop down and hoist the 27-year-old up, pulling him off the roof of the submerged car.

The 27-year-old suffered minor injuries.