VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- John Doub, an off-duty volunteer with the Virginia Beach Rescue Squad, has participated in dozens of water and fire rescues. But none, he says, prepared him for what happened Tuesday.
Doub, who owns a truck dealership in Chesapeake, said he was on his way to visit a customer in Newport News when traffic on the High-Rise Bridge screeched to a halt.
"A car just ahead of me came to an abrupt stop, and a woman climbed out, walked around the front of her car and jumped over the side," Doub said.
"I thought, 'You did not just do that!' "
Doub said he had come off a night shift at the Beach a few hours before and was carrying his rescue equipment in his car. He got out of his car and saw the woman bobbing in the water, part of the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, about 200 feet below.
"She was moving, and you could see she was in pain," Doub said.
He grabbed a flotation device from his car and tossed it over the side, then called police.
State Police and the Chesapeake Fire Department arrived on the bridge within minutes. A short time later, a private boat pulled alongside the woman, and police aboard the craft pulled her out of the water, Doub said.
Doub said he was told she was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and was in critical condition. A State Police spokesperson said the incident is being investigated as an attempted suicide but refused to give details.
"I've saved a lot of people, many in cardiac arrest," Doub, 49, of Corolla, N.C., said of the four years he has worked with Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services. "But it's rare to see it unfold in front of your eyes. It's really frustrating to be standing there, and there's not much you can do."
Still, Doub said he enjoys emergency work and planned to be back on duty Tuesday night.
"When you take people who are having a bad day and you turn that around, it's a good feeling," he said.