Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Tourist airlifted after jumping off bridge

A Massachusetts man who reportedly had been drinking all day fell head-first off the Seven Mile Bridge Monday night after leading a deputy on a high-speed chase up to 90 mph, according to Monroe County Sheriff's Office offense reports.

Dale Dorasa, 45, fell at least 100 feet from the peak of the bridge at 11 p.m. after getting out of his car and allegedly refusing deputies' orders.

"As I closed the distance to approximately four to five feet, I observed the driver roll off the top of the Jersey barrier and over the side of the bridge before I could grab him," wrote Deputy Joel Slough. "I watched as the driver plummeted to the water and disappear."

Dorasa surfaced a few seconds later and began treading water as deputies called the Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) while he screamed for help, reports say. Deputies lost sight of him when he floated under the old Seven Mile Bridge.

Dorasa was pulled from the water by Sheriff's Office Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra and taken to Coast Guard Station Marathon, where paramedics rushed him to the Florida Keys Marathon Airport for an airlift to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, reports say.

A warrant will be issued for Dorasa's arrest on charges of reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police and resisting arrest when he is released from the hospital, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin.

At the Coast Guard station, Dorasa reportedly told Slough he drank seven or eight beers, but then changed his story, saying it was four beers.

"The driver did not have an answer as to why he fled the initial traffic stop," Slough wrote in his report. "He also could not explain stopping on the bridge and jumping off."

The incident began Deputy Vincent Weiner tried to stop the white rental Chevrolet Impala near 25th Street in Marathon after reports said the car was headed north in U.S. 1's southbound lanes.

Weiner pulled the car over near 22nd Street, where Dorasa reportedly stopped for a few seconds then "rapidly accelerated" headed south, the deputy wrote in his report.

Speeds reached 80 mph in the 35 mph zone and then 90 mph as Dorasa entered the Seven Mile Bridge.

The Impala engine then apparently broke down, its parts littering the highway, before Dorasa stopped at the peak of the bridge, near Mile Marker 44.1, and got out of the car, reports say.

Dorasa then "purposely went head-first over the concrete barrier" at gunpoint as deputies yelled at him to stop.

As he was drifting in the water, Weiner yelled at him to grab the bridge support, but Dorasa was apparently unable to do so.

Weiner contacted Darosa's son at a rental on Aviation Boulevard who told the deputy his father was a recovering alcoholic and recently began drinking again, the report states.

The father had been drinking all day during a fishing trip, the son reportedly told Weiner.

Darosa's condition at Ryder could not be confirmed as of press time.

"He appeared to be OK, but you never know with a jump that distance, and medics wanted to be on the safe side regarding possible internal injuries," Herrin said.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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