News & Blogs PSA: please don't swim in the mississippi (1 Viewer)

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Apr 6, 2013
News tab and added body of article from link.

Please be safe out there...


Two who jumped to their deaths off St. Louis bridge were looking for 'fun'


William McGarry looks over the railing of the Eads Bridge on Friday, July 31, 2015 at the spot where his two friends jumped into the Mississippi River on the evening of July 21. McGarry, who lived with the men in a tent camp on the Illinois side of the river, said the two were fun-loving men, not suicidal, and just planned to swim to the Illinois bank. Authorities later recovered both bodies. Photo by Robert Cohen, [email protected]

3 hours ago • By Kim Bell, Robert Patrick
ST. LOUIS • Jim Monroe Jr. had just hiked 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail before arriving in St. Louis.

Timothy Liebl hitchhiked and hopped trains to get here from Barstow, Calif.

On July 21, Monroe, Liebl and two other self-described vagabonds and adrenaline junkies hatched a plan to jump off the Eads Bridge — for fun.


One of those four, William McGarry, 50, of Anaheim, Calif., told the Post-Dispatch on Friday that he had done the math on the jump — making measurements and calculating the velocity the men would reach before they hit the water. He said he even dropped a heavy construction cone to help calculate the current.

McGarry said that the men planned out the jump, talking about it for about two hours beforehand.

Monroe, 41, and Liebl, 34, made the jump about 9:30 p.m., McGarry said, and surfaced quickly.
“They were whooping and hollering, having the time of their life,” he said. “They were like two little kids at Disneyland for the first time. They were having fun.”

But the two did not survive the swim.

On Friday, the St. Louis Fire Department recovered Liebl’s body. The East St. Louis Police identified him as one of the jumpers, and said his body was found at or near the Cargill grain elevators in Cahokia.

Monroe’s stepmother, Nancy C. Monroe, and his ex-wife, Jennifer Monroe, confirmed his death in interviews Friday.

St. Louis Fire Capt. Gregg Favre cautioned that it was too early to know what killed Monroe and Liebl. But, he warned, “The Mississippi River is certainly not a safe, swimmable river. It is a commercial waterway that is highly unpredictable and exceedingly dangerous.”

Currents, river traffic and debris create undertows and vortexes that can suck you under, Favre said.

Liebl’s mother declined to comment. Public records indicate that he hailed from Arizona. McGarry said he made the trip from Barstow with Liebl.

Monroe’s Facebook pages say that he studied at what was then the International Academy of Design and Technology in Las Vegas and the University of West Georgia, and worked in Las Vegas.

Jennifer Monroe described her ex as hard-working, resourceful and devoted to his daughter but also eccentric. “He would do things just to be able to say he did it.” She said Monroe was her soulmate, but she told him they couldn’t be together until he dealt with some issues. He started that process with the Appalachian Trail hike, she said.

He regularly kept in touch with relatives. His last message to his teenage daughter said that he was in St. Louis, by the Gateway Arch, and was ultimately heading to Hollywood.

Both Jennifer and Nancy Monroe said that Monroe was not homeless, as officials had described the men. He has a home in South Carolina that is paid for, they said, but frequently chose a more nomadic lifestyle.

He’d hiked 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail before taking a break.

He had met the fourth man on the bridge, Timothy Morrow, in Johnson City, Tenn., and traveled with Morrow to St. Louis. They had been here several weeks, Nancy Monroe said.

She said the next they heard was when Morrow texted Jim Monroe’s sister, telling her that he had jumped. “When we heard (about the jump), we said, ‘That’s Jim, that’s just him. Who would jump into the Mississippi River? Jim would.’”

Since that time, they frantically searched for news of his fate. Aided by a family photo that showed Jim Monroe’s tattoos, the St. Louis medical examiner’s office confirmed his identity and told relatives Thursday, she said. He was found 35 miles south of St. Louis, she said.

“We are deeply heartbroken,” she said.

Jennifer Monroe said that Jim Monroe was a very strong swimmer who enjoyed swimming at night but likely was not thinking about the river’s reputation.

Although he calls it “foolish” now, McGarry also called the jump “old-fashioned fun.”

“We did crazy stuff, but for us, heck, people 100 to 200 years ago did it. It was commonplace, camping beside a river, jumping off high rocks,” he said.

“There was no doubt in our mind we could do it.”

He said he chose not to jump with them because he wanted to go in the daylight, in case something went wrong, so someone on the shore would see them.

“I was scared,” he said, but he couldn’t persuade his two friends to wait.

He said that the men were not drinkers and stressed that all “knew the risk.”

“It was not a dare. Just something that you could tell your grandkids about.”

“Trust and believe, these gentlemen loved life,” he said. “Adventurers. We called ourselves travelers, not homeless people. We are four men searching for something.”

McGarry said that both Jim Monroe and Liebl were strong and in good shape.

“I can’t believe they didn’t make it,” he said.

A former surfer, McGarry warned the men about undertows and told his friends how to swim in those conditions — to float on their backs and not fight it if they got into trouble.

McGarry said that the men had planned three pickup points they could swim to after the jump. But the pair floated past those points “in six or seven minutes. They were fast.”

The Coast Guard didn’t get the report of the jumpers for about four hours, until about 1:30 a.m., delaying a search that also involved the police and fire departments. The searchers also were hampered by high water and fast currents.

McGarry speculated that the men “got tired and the fear element sets in.”

Morrow, 38, of Johnson City, Tenn., said in a brief interview Friday at the Post-Dispatch that he never planned to jump but did not tell his friends that.

“I was never going to do it because I know what that river would do,” he said.
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Aug 6, 2014
Cheyenne WY
Thats some stuff there.I guess ya never know when your ticket is going to get punched.I feel bad for those guys for sure RIP.

Kim Chee

I deleted myself
Like goes out to @Odin for posting body of artical:)

Sorry to hear about these two. Apparently the currents aren't to be trifled with. Be careful around water. Cool they got the last thrill of jumping though.

Andrea Van Scoyoc

Sock Monkey Queen
May 19, 2015
Port Richey Florida
That is really sad, but of all the rivers to jump in to...the Mississippi wouldn't even be on my list.

That river is disgusting. It's filthy, dangerous and filled with all sorts of god awful debris.

Really sorry this happened to them. :(


Mar 31, 2015
Jeff Buckley died the same way. After finishing up a new album, he and and his band mates celebrated by jumping into the Mississippi river. Jeff was the only one who didn't surface.

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