Once again, names are changed to protect the ignorant.
This is the bridge. It crosses the Cane River in downtown Natchitoches, LA.
Notice how the bridge crosses a parking lot on the right, before it crosses the river. There is about fifteen feet between the parking lot and the bottom of the bridge, about twenty feet between the lot and the bridge railing. The Courthouse is two blocks from the bridge, directly to the right of the picture. The jail was atop the Courthouse.
Willie was a prisoner in the jail. One afternoon, Willie saw an opportunity to escape and took it. He emerged on the first floor of the Courthouse at 3:00 p.m. on a sunlit summer afternoon. Willie was immediately spotted by a half-dozen deputies who were about to go on-shift. They set up a hue and cry and the off-going shift was also alerted.
Shift change is a bad time to escape from jail, because by definition you have two shifts following you. Willie decided to beat feet toward the bridge, with a half-dozen deputies in hot pursuit. When Willie got to the bridge, he continued across it until he noticed patrol units entering the bridge from the other end. Willie was effectively boxed in, but he decided to swim for freedom. Willie climbed up on the bridge railing. He saluted the running deputies with a single middle finger. He executed a magnificent, Olympic style swan dive. Directly into the parking lot.
We recovered Willie easily enough. He broke a couple of bones in his hands, and gave himself a concussion. Willie was lucky that he didn't hit the river, because it had silted badly under the bridge and the water there is only about three feet deep. Had he completed his dive into the water, he would have stuck into the mud like a spear, and might have drowned before we could get him out.
Three or four days later I saw Willie in the jail, with casts on his hands. I asked him when he knew he had screwed up. "Mr. Dennis" he replied, "I knew something was wrong when I felt my fingers breaking."