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Man rescued from Kiski River after jump from Apollo Bridge

| Sunday, May 25, 2014, 12:02 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A man who jumped off the Apollo Bridge is brought into a boat by Armstrong County Water Rescue Task Force 340 members and a state trooper on the Kiski River on Sunday, May 25, 2014.

A man who escaped from an ambulance jumped from the Leonard C. Miller Bridge between Westmoreland and Armstrong counties on Sunday and was recovered alive from the Kiski River.

State police said Joshua Pastrnak, 30, of North Huntingdon escaped about 10:20 a.m. from an ambulance en route to the Clarion Psychiatric Center for a mental health evaluation. He had been involuntarily committed to Westmoreland Regional Hospital when North Huntingdon police arrested him on Saturday, and accused him of violating a protection-from-abuse order, state police Lt. Tom Dubovi said.

Charges relating to that violation had not been filed. North Huntingdon police could not be reached for comment.

State police Trooper Thomas Karlo said the Mutual Aid EMS crew transporting Pastrnak came to a stop when he began making attempts to escape as they crossed the river on what is commonly referred to as the Apollo Bridge. After exiting the ambulance, Karlo said, Pastrnak climbed atop the north ledge on the Apollo side of the bridge and threatened to jump.

A supervisor from the Hempfield-based Mutual Aid EMS declined to comment.

Five police departments responded to the incident and had the bridge shut down by 10:35 a.m.

After about 90 minutes of speaking with police, Pastrnak jumped backward from the ledge, flipping in the air and landing on his side from a fall of about 55 feet. An Armstrong County swift water rescue team waiting about 25 feet downriver pulled him out and brought him to the Apollo riverbank just before noon.

He was unconscious but breathing during the rescue, Dubovi said. His injuries did not appear life-threatening, he said.

An emergency crew from Vandergrift Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 stabilized his neck and loaded him into an ambulance, and he regained consciousness. The ambulance took him to a landing zone set up at a nearby football field, where he was flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, Dubovi said.

A condition report at the hospital was unavailable.

Aside from a broken leg, Karlo said, the nature and extent of Pastrnak's injuries were unknown. He will not be charged or cited for the incident.

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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