Man Jumps From Bridge; Listed in Critical Condition

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -- A Region 8 man is in critical condition at The Med in Memphis after he jumped off of the Bono Bridge and onto a moving train.  20-year-old Michael David Dickens and his friend 23-year-old Justin Cockrell went to a late movie on Friday night.  After the movie the two drove out to the Bono Bridge where Cockrell said Dickens started joking about jumping off the bridge.

"One young man was joking about wanting to jump on the train and they were there about twenty or thirty minutes and a train came by and he jumped," said Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann.

Region 8 News contacted Cockrell who declined to speak on camera but told us that this was not a planned stunt.  Cockrell told Region 8 News he never expected his friend to actually jump.

The distance from the top of the bridge to the top of a train car is a pretty far distance.

This bridge has held the fascination of people for years.  The Bono Bridge is an old wooden bridge that shakes when a train goes underneath it.

"It's been there for years and it's always been a gathering place for young people.  It's isolated and people just like to watch trains go by," said McCann.

The report from the sheriff's office says that Cockrell called 911 after his friend jumped into the car of the moving train.  The sheriff's department and an ambulance service were on hand several miles down the road to get Dickens out of the coal car he had fallen into.

The sheriff's report also said that Dickens suffered from fractures in both ankles, a broken vertebrae, and possible internal injuries.

"He was very fortunate not to be killed.  At least he did stay in the car.  If he had of rolled off the side of the car and down onto the rail bed he could have been killed," said McCann.

McCann said this is the first jumper he knows of at the Bono Bridge and has no idea what triggered this action.

To my knowledge there was no indication of any alcohol or drugs.  They were just two young men and this one decided to do something different," said McCann.

It is unknown at this time if there are any charges that can be or will be filed in this case.  The Craighead County Sheriff's Department and the BNSF Railroad Police met on Monday to discuss what happened.  Both organizations are taking part in the investigation.