TAMPA, Fla. — A man is lucky to be alive thanks to an off-duty police officer and his friend who saved him from the bay.
Fishing for bait under the Gandy bridge on Wednesday morning put off-duty Tampa police officer James Wilcher and his friend Chip Roberts in the right place at the right time to help with something very unexpected.
"I saw a gentleman standing up on the bridge but thought maybe he lost something on the side of the road," said Wilcher.
But things quickly escalated.
"And two minutes later he actually jumps," said Roberts.
"You don’t think you just do, you just react," said Wilcher.
And that's exactly what the men did. Tampa police chopper video shows officer Wilcher and Roberts getting to the man and holding him above water for 30 minutes. Wilcher tells us the side of the boat was too high to lift the semi-conscious man in, so they held him and waited for a police marine unit to arrive.
"He didn’t really communicate at all, he whispered something but he didn’t really react, he was just moving his lips," said Wilcher.
The man was transported to a local hospital and is expected to be alright.
"We were there at the perfect spot at the perfect moment," said Roberts.