Witnesses say a homeless man is feared dead after jumping off a bridge into Buffalo Bayou near the Harris County Criminal Justice Center downtown.
Witnesses at the scene tell us the man, an African-American homeless man often seen sleeping on park benches around the courthouse, jumped off the bridge near San Jacinto and Baker just after noon on Friday. Witnesses who saw him jump say they urged him to swim to shore, but that the man disappeared after treading water for a few minutes.
Officials aren't saying anything at this time, other than to confirm there was an incident at the bridge. We'll update this post as more information becomes available.
Update: David Worden told us he had just left the Harris County Criminal Courthouse when he saw the man, who he described as in his sixties and stocky, with a big white beard, talking to a woman near the railing. Worden, who was arrested while filming outside a Shell refinery last year, had been at the courthouse for a hearing.
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Worden said he turned away for a second and heard a splash, and then ran over to look down, where he saw the man in the water, shedding his parka but still wearing a heavy shirt underneath.
"Once that stuff gets wet, it's like a rock," Worden said, adding that other witnesses ran to the railing and yelled for the man to swim to shore.
Both Worden and another witness, Jason Valdez, said they saw the man tread water for two to three minutes before he went under. Valdez, who works downtown, said he often saw the man in the area, and would give him a few bucks or a sandwich. He described the man as "a real nice guy," but suspected he had "mental issues."