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Second jump from Tarentum Bridge proves fatal

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 11:46 a.m.

Authorities say the Tarentum man who jumped to his death from the Tarentum Bridge on Wednesday night escaped from a mental health treatment facility in West Deer about an hour before.

It was the second time in four years that the man jumped from the same bridge, police said.

Greggory Felton, 28, climbed out a window at the facility at about 10 p.m. Wednesday and walked to the bridge, said Allegheny County Homicide Detective Sgt. Scott Scherer. He said he didn't know the name of the facility. West Deer Police would not comment.

Tarentum police Chief William Vakulick said they believe Felton is the same man who survived a May 2009 jump from the bridge.

In that noontime incident, Felton told rescuers that he was thrill seeking when he suddenly ran from the pedestrian walkway, across four lanes of traffic and jumped over the side.

Felton wasn't injured and climbed from the water on his own.

Police say Felton's jump on Wednesday appears to have been a suicide.

Scherer noted that Felton had tried to commit suicide several times in the past.

“We have video that shows him alone, so foul play is not suspected,” Scherer said.

The Valley News Dispatch does not report apparent suicides unless they occur in a public area.

Felton is believed to have jumped from the middle of the downriver side of the bridge, which has a low wall and no fencing.

Ross Snyder of Tarentum said he was fishing on the pier at the Tarentum boat launch when he heard a splash and then someone yelling for help.

Snyder said he tried to get Felton to swim to shore so Snyder could throw him rope that Snyder keeps in his tackle box.

Felton was found unresponsive in the water shortly before 11 p.m., about 15 minutes after witnesses called 911, officials said.

A tugboat captain spotted Felton and aimed a floodlight on him.

“One of the things that worked well for us was that we had good communication with commercial traffic in the area,” said Brad James, deputy chief of Eureka Fire Rescue.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office has not determined a cause of death. Toxicology tests are pending.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jweigand@tribweb.com.

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