Man jumps from Rip Van Winkle Bridge

East-bound on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which connects Greene and Columbia Counties. Photo by Flickr user Karen Blumberg. Used under Creative Commons license.

A disturbing story is unfolding tonight surrounding the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, where a man apparently jumped into the Hudson River around 11:20 this morning. Authorities in Columbia County were alerted to a possible jump from the pedestrian walkway on the bridge's south side by multiple 911 calls from drivers and pedestrians.

The man's identity is unknown at this time. According to the Register-Star

A black winter coat was found near the middle of the bridge, on the Columbia County side. It's unclear whether the coat belonged to the victim. Police searched it for clues and also interviewed witnesses.

The bridge was closed during the investigation. Authorities have confirmed that a body was sighted in the water and that dive teams had been brought in to recover it, but that initial attempts to recover it were unsuccessful. The search has been called off for the night, but will resume in the morning, according to the State Police. A command center has been set up at the Hudson Boat Launch including authorities and first responders from the New York State Police, Columbia County Sheriff’s office, and Greenport Rescue. State police report that this is the third possible suicide from a New York bridge this month.