Bridge jumper a wanted man

Wyland

As detectives searched his home early Wednesday, a West Ashley man jumped from the General William C. Westmoreland Bridge when officers responding to reports of a potentially suicidal motorist learned he was a wanted man, according to a report.

Corey Lee Wyland, 32, of Pierpont Avenue survived the 35-foot leap into the Ashley River. Officers climbed onto a fishing vessel docked nearby and plucked him from the water. He was later arrested at Medical University Hospital on a charge of grand larceny.

Motorists who saw the incident, including Tarrell Zellous, said Wyland was sitting on a concrete wall and smiling just seconds before his mood abruptly changed and he disappeared from view.

“I just saw the cops running over there toward him,” Zellous said. “Then they were looking over the edge. It was crazy.”

Officers from the Charleston Police Department were called to the Interstate 526 bridge around 8:10 a.m. for a report of a disabled Ford F-150. Its driver might be contemplating a jump, a caller told the police.

The traffic blockage backed up eastbound I-526 to the Paul Cantrell Boulevard interchange.

When officers arrived, Wyland said, “I ran out of gas,” according to the incident report. “I’m waiting on my wife. She is bringing me some.”

As instructed, Wyland stepped away from the edge of the bridge, and after radioing his name to dispatchers, officers found no warrants for his arrest.

Or so they thought. Through telephone calls, officers learned that Wyland was wanted by the Mount Pleasant Police Department. Detectives from that town were searching his house as Wyland stood on the bridge with officers. But the arrest warrant was so fresh that it hadn’t yet been entered into a national database.

Before officers had a chance to apprehend Wyland, he went over the side.

He was conscious after hitting the water and appeared to be swimming with the current, the report says.

“He was just sitting on the edge,” said Zellous, the motorist who was driving over the bridge toward North Charleston. “He had his legs crossed and his hands crossed. Then I just saw his feet in the air, and he fell into the water.”

Officers boarded a boat that was departing the nearby RiversEdge Marina and were escorted to the man, who was floating about 20 yards south of the bridge, Zellous said.

He was rescued and was not seriously injured, Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said.

The Mount Pleasant Police Department arrested Wyland after he was cleared by doctors. The details on the larceny charge were not immediately known.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.

Andrew Knapp is editor of the quick response team, which covers crime, courts and breaking news. He previously worked as a reporter and copy editor at Florida Today, Newsday and Bangor (Maine) Daily News. He enjoys golf, weather and fatherhood.