Tugboat crew makes rescue from river

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

&uot;She’s alive.&uot;

Those were the words rescuers and witnesses hoped for &045; but did not expect &045; after a woman leaped Tuesday from the Mississippi River bridge.

Just before noon, law enforcement officials received a report that a woman had jumped from the eastbound side of the bridge.

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Less than an hour later, a pilot and deck hand from Vidalia Dock and Storage rescued Jan G. Montgomery, 51, of 18 Old Montgomery Road, from the water five miles below Natchez.

&uot;It’s a miracle,&uot; said Carla Jenkins of Vidalia Dock and Storage. &uot;There were a lot of people praying for her. We were all so grateful to be able to find her alive.&uot;

Montgomery was listed in guarded condition at Natchez Regional Medical Center Tuesday afternoon, according to Administrator Jack Houghton.

Adams County Sheriff’s Department officials said Montgomery was beginning to suffer hypothermia and was having chest pains and breathing problems. She was talking to people during the rescue, although she was still in shock.

She had been in the water, Ferrell estimated, about 30 to 45 minutes.

The Vidalia and Natchez police departments &045; both of which received calls about the jump &045; and the Concordia and Adams County sheriff’s departments helped with the rescue, along with Vidalia Dock and Storage.

Montgomery had apparently stopped her Toyota Four-Runner on the bridge shortly before noon.

Some witnesses said they saw her pacing on the bridge before she jumped.

Left inside the car was a note with phone numbers, including her pastor’s number, along with her driver license, said Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell.

Henry Farmer of Natchez spotted Montgomery in the river after he saw two friends stopped on the bridge in front of the woman’s car.

&uot;All I could see was her head the whole way,&uot; Farmer said.

Farmer said he could tell Montgomery was alive &045; but he couldn’t believe it.

With several law enforcement agencies notified and joining the search, Vidalia Dock and Storage launched a towboat, the MV/Bettye M. Jenkins, to help in what many hoped would be a rescue.

On the tugboat were pilot Carl Roberts and deck hand Robby Newman.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Department also launched its helicopter, piloted by Stephen Guido.

The barge Charles Depmar, of American Commercial Barge Lines was the first to spot

Montgomery, 50 in the water.

The helicopter also spotted her and circled. Guido said she waved to him from the water.

Roberts and Newman were able to pull Montgomery into the tugboat.

&uot;They were surprised to find her alive and responding,&uot; Ferrell said.

Montgomery was transferred to a Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office rescue boat, which took her to the Vidalia Landing. AMR transported her to Natchez Regional.

Montgomery was talking to people during the rescue, although she was still in shock.

In all the years Ferrell and the other long-timers at the Sheriff’s Office had been there, they had seen several jumps, but only one other survival.

&uot;The odds are 100-to-1,&uot; Ferrell said.