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Lower Matecumbe Key (CBSMiami) – A Polk County man who was reportedly suicidal died after he jumped from the Channel 5 Bridge at MM 70 in the Florida Keys.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said at around 11:15 a.m. on Saturday they received a call about a white SUV which had a hose running from the exhaust pipe into the cab of the vehicle.

Deputy Leon Bourcier spotted it on the shoulder of the road at the south end of the Channel 5 Bridge. As he stopped behind the vehicle, he saw the back hatch open and 50-year old Stephen Gius of Lake Worth grab the hose leading to the exhaust pipe and pull it back into the vehicle.

Before the deputy could stop him, Gius took off. The deputy pursued Gius onto the bridge but when he reached the top of it, he saw the SUV pulled to the side of the road and traffic had come to a stop. A witness ran up to the deputy and told him a man had gotten out of the SUV and had jumped off the bridge.

Deputy Michael Cofield was in the vicinity in his patrol boat. He’d heard the radio traffic about the incident and headed for the area where Gius had jumped off the bridge. He found him floating in the water; he was unresponsive, floating face down.

When Cofield pulled the man into the boat, Gius suddenly started to fight with him. He broke away from the deputy and dove under the water.

Cofield waved a nearby fishing vessel over to assist him. He was able to grab Gius by the belt. Two women on board the fishing vessel were able to help and they pulled Gius on board the patrol boat.

Gius was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

A handwritten note was found in his vehicle; on one side it said “I lost my wife, my business and my dog”; on the other side it said “sorry mother”.


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