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Person jumps from Rip Van Winkle Bridge

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    Mary Dempsey/Columbia-Greene Media First responders make their way across the icy waters of the Hudson River.
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    Mary Dempsey/Columbia-Greene Media A rescue boat was able to gain access to the river after an excavator broke up the ice on the water’s surface.
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    Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media First responders are on the scene at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on Wednesday.
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    Mary Dempsey/Columbia-Greene Media The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office used its water rescue boat in the recovery effort.
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    Mary Dempsey/Columbia-Greene Media A member of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office aids in clearing a path through the ice on the Hudson River.
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    Amanda Purcell/Columbia-Greene Media Officials on the scene as the investigation continues into an apparent jump from the bridge.
January 16, 2019 10:09 pm Updated: January 16, 2019 11:23 pm


Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett has confirmed that a person jumped from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The bridge has been reopened to traffic after it was closed for about two hours, according to Capt. John DeRocha of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Attempts to get a Columbia County Sheriff’s rescue boat into the river were hampered by thick ice, authorities said. An excavator was brought in to break up the ice into large chunks to enable the boat to get into the water.

Brian Frugis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said the air temperature was around 37 degrees at about 2 p.m., when the rescue began. The water temperature was recorded as 32 degrees at 10 a.m. in the Hudson River near Rhinebeck.

The river has been frozen since Sunday night.

Traffic was stopped in both directions on the bridge for a time, authorities said.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of command at the scene, Bartlett confirmed.

State police and Greenport Fire Department responded to the scene as well.

A Greene County Sheriff’s Office boat and dive team were on the river assisting at the scene Wednesday afternoon, Greene County Sheriff Greg Seeley said.

“We’re helping out. We’ve got our boat on the water,” he said.

State police are handling the case and the Sheriff’s Office is assisting, Columbia County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Wayne Lopez said. Rescue efforts were continuing as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Several rescue boats were attempting to reach something in the surface but were having trouble because of pieces of ice blocking the path.

An investigator at the scene was taking pictures of an unoccupied white Toyota Prius in the parking area adjacent to the bridge. A sheriff’s deputy was stationed near the Prius.

The Hudson Fire Department’s water rescue team brought its rescue boat to the dock of the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, but the ice was too thick and in choppy pieces so the boat was not put into the water and left the park.

Several rescue boats were attempting to reach the area where the jumper fell.