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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Washington Man Jumps From Bridge Hwy 47 Missouri River Crossing


Police Identify Man Who Jumped From Route 47 Bridge

May 2, 2011

Washington police have identified the man who jumped from the Missouri River bridge Monday night as Martin Kehl, 49, of Washington.
Police Chief Ken Hahn said that Kehl fell approximately 80 feet and landed on the railroad tracks on the west side of the bridge.
First responders confirmed that Kehl was deceased before his body was struck by an eastbound freight train.
The incident happened shortly before 8 p.m. Monday evening.
According to an eyewitness, Kehl, driving a vehicle northbound on the Route 47 Missouri River bridge, pulled the car over near the Washington side of the bridge and quickly exited his vehicle.
The witness, who was walking with his wife near the bridge at the time of the incident, said Kehl pulled himself over the railing and leaped off the west side of the bridge.
Kehl landed on the railroad tracks below the bridge and was then struck by an approaching train. The eyewitness said the train attempted to stop before it struck the victim.
Firemen used chain saws to cut through swampy brush to get to the body.
Washington Fire Chief Bill Halmich was among the first responders to arrive at the scene.
He said emergency workers had determined that Kehl was deceased just before an eastbound freight train struck the body.
"We had contacted dispatchers and told them to notify and stop any trains approaching Washington," Halmich told The Missourian. "At that point, an eastbound train came around a curve without warning," he noted.
Halmich said the train did not sound its whistle and two firefighters and a police officer had to "dive for cover" before they were able to pull Kehl's body off the tracks.
Police said Union Pacific was notified to stop all trains, but the eastbound freighter hauling coal cars was unable to stop in time.
Police reported that two people were walking east on Missouri Avenue near the bridge when they saw Kehl stop his SUV on the bridge, get out, walk to the side, climb over the rail and jump to the tracks below. They immediately called 911 to report the incident.
The man's vehicle was towed to the police station pending an investigation, Police Chief Ken Hahn said. He said no suicide note had been found.
Halmich said first responders had to wade through about 2 feet of water in a swampy area between the riverfront trail and the railroad tracks. They then used chain saws to clear a path in order to carry equipment and lighting to the scene for the medical examiner to view the area.
A Union Pacific Railroad detective also responded to investigate, Halmich said.
The stopped train blocked the Lafayette Street crossing so later responders had to travel from the east end of the riverfront trail to reach the scene, Halmich said.
A spokesman for Union Pacific said the coal train had 105 railcars and was going from Colorado to East St. Louis, Ill. In addition, an Amtrak train was in the area at the time.
All trains were stopped in the area during the investigation and rail traffic was allowed to resume at 10:40 p.m., the spokesman said.
Hahn said police are continuing an investigation.

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