Fatal leap off I-75 overpass prompts push for barrier

Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 12:10 a.m.
In the wake of a man's death after he jumped off an Interstate 75 overpass, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office is pursuing efforts to have fencing or some other barricade installed to prevent further such incidents.
Deputies are asking the Florida Department of Transportation to look into the possibility of putting up safety equipment at the overpass on SW 20th Avenue, spokesman Lt. Jim Troiano said.
The formal request will be later this month at an area traffic safety meeting, Troiano said.
The 29-year-old man was running from deputies after an argument with his ex-wife on Dec. 15 when he jumped from the overpass and was hit by a tractor-trailer on the highway below, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The next day a suicidal woman tried to jump from the same overpass. A deputy saved her life by persuading her to back away from the ledge.
The state Department of Transportation would have to approve installing any equipment. Then the state or county would have to pay for the project.
"At this time, we don't have any funding for any project on 20th Avenue," DOT spokeswoman Gina Busscher said.
  • Yuletide crime: During a season of giving, someone decided to do some taking from the University of Florida's Animal/Dairy Sciences Building.
    A burglar broke into the building on Shealy Drive and Ritchey Road during the morning of Dec. 15 and stole computer monitors, hard drives and other computer parts and accessories, according to the University of Florida Police Department.
    It did not appear there was any forced entry into the building, police spokesman Lt. Joe Sharkey said.
    The value of the stolen equipment is estimated at between $8,000 to $10,000. The thief also caused about $2,000 in damage to office doors inside the building.
  • Counting the dollars: A ranking of 2004 jury awards around the country lists a $1.6 billion award in Alabama at No. 1, according to Lawyers Weekly USA.
    The award was granted to a woman who paid her insurer, Southwestern Life Insurance Co., $3,000 in premiums for a policy that had already lapsed.
    Other top 10 awards ranged from $105 million to $1 billion in states including Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, California, Illinois, New York and Maryland.
    The 2004 figures reversed a 2003 decline in awards and in most cases were punitive damages.
    Also among the awards was a $156 million jury award to the family of a teenager shot in Israel. The family had sued three Islamic charities based in the United States and an Illinois man, alleging they funneled money to terrorists.
    The Alachua County Clerk of the Court does not keep a ranking of amounts juries have awarded in civil cases.
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