Jul 28, 2014
Light Rain

Reports of Possible Sewickley Bridge Jumper Prove False

Authorities began searching the river after a receiving two reports of a person who potentially jumped.

Reports of Possible Sewickley Bridge Jumper Prove False
Local police—with the help of the Crescent Volunteer Fire Department water rescue team and the U.S. Coast Guard—spent several hours Thursday searching for a man who was believed to have jumped from the Sewickley Bridge. 

Moon police first received a call at 11:08 a.m. that a man standing on the bridge rail appeared as if he was going to jump into the Ohio River. The initial call was made by a driver who had picked up an unknown person walking near the bridge at University Boulevard and Thorn Run Road.

Police said the unknown person made the observation and told the driver, who then called police. 

At 11:10 a.m., police said a second caller crossing the bridge on a bicycle reported seeing a note taped to the rail in the middle of the bridge, but no one was around.

At 11:12 a.m., Moon police located the note and scanned the river for a person who possibly jumped. The U.S. Coast Guard and the river rescue team from Crescents were summoned, and personnel at the Dashields Lock and Dam in Edgeworth were notified, police said. 

Police noticed a man fishing in a small motor boat near the Sewickley Bridge and asked him to immediately start looking for a person in the water. He hadn't seen anyone jump, but quickly began searching the river, police said.

Suddenly a massive storm came across the search area and, police said, the lightning, wind and heavy rain was so severe it slowed the U.S. Coast Guard and river rescue response. 

Police were able to contact the original caller and texted him a photo of Robert Swogger, 34, of Moon, who had signed his name to the note on the bridge. The caller identified the photo as the person walking he had picked up earlier. 

Police began searching for Swogger in the Mooncrest neighborhood, so that if he was located authorities could end the recovery efforts.

Police said an additional boat equipped with sonar arrived and a reverse 911 message was sent out to the Mooncrest area asking for anyone to report contact with Swogger.

Police located Swogger at 2:38 p.m. at a Mooncrest apartment. He was taken for an involuntary mental health commitment and the search was ended. 

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