Friday, April 22, 2011

Another sad day on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Writing a blog entry like this is a rare occurrence here at the Interstate 275 Blog. However, I was saddened when I came across this article in today's St. Petersburg Times that involved someone who jumped from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It turned out to be the son of former St. Petersburg College President Dr. Carl Kuttler Jr., Carl Kuttler III.

What makes it more saddening is that it took place on a religious holiday before Easter, which is Good Friday. According to the St. Petersburg Times article, Dr. Kuttler's son contacted Bay News 9's Al Ruechel who, in turn, alerted authorities. At least Bay News 9 did everything they could as it tried to stop a suicide that was about to take place on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Being a St. Petersburg College alumnus (Class of 1987, back when it was called St. Petersburg Junior College), I remember the night when I walked the stage at the graduation ceremony held at the Bayfront Center in downtown St. Petersburg. As I walked the stage, I remember the moment I shook Dr. Kuttler's hand and received my associate's degree. After all, receiving my degree was one of my most important achievements setting the stage for what would be my eventual employment by the City of St. Petersburg four months later.

My condolences go out to Dr. Kuttler and his family in this utmost hour of sorrow. And a word of gratitude goes out to Al Ruechel at Bay News 9 for trying to stop a serious situation out there on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Because of the events that transpired on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge involving a suicide, I am reprinting part of a blog entry that I had here at the Interstate 275 Blog on this subject. If you or a loved one you know is in crisis, help is out there.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is help out there.

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis situation, here in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area dial 211 for information and referral to someone who can help. If you reside elsewhere, check your local telephone directory for the crisis intervention number in your area. However, in an extreme emergency you can always dial 911. Another resource would be the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached toll free at 1 (800) 273-TALK 24/7/365.

For our Spanish speaking visitors: Para ayuda llame al 1 (888) 628-9454.

On the Sunshine Skyway Bridge there are a set of crisis counseling telephones mounted on the high level main span, three on the southbound lanes and three on the northbound lanes. Below these phones is a sign written in English and in Spanish that reads: "There is hope - make the call". These phones connect the caller to The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay in Tampa and the counselor answering the phone can immediately pinpoint where the caller is located so that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper can be dispatched to the caller's location on the Sunshine Skyway. After all, time is very crucial in an emergency situation.

After all, help is out there.


Ellen Levett said...

Since Carl chose Al as the last person to whom he would speak, as a friend of Carl's, I would like to know what Carl said to Al? Do you know?

Edward Ringwald said...


To clarify I do not know Carl personally. However, according to the Bay News 9 article there is no way of knowing what was said.

The only way we would know would be from the 911 tapes - which would eventually become public record - when Bay News 9 staff called to report a potential jumper from the Sunshine Skyway. Apparently Al was able to stay on the line while at the same time alerting a Bay News 9 staff member in the background to call 911.