An Eastern Shore man who wrote a suicide note and climbed over the railing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge evidently lost the nerve to jump and wound up spending two days huddled in the steel understructure before climbing down and giving himself up to the Coast Guard.
Daniel Pase, 31, of Crupton, Md., was undergoing psychological evaluation yesterday at a Delaware hospital to which his family had him committed, toll facilities police spokesman Tom Freburger said.
Freburger said Pase, who reportedly separated recently from his wife, parked his Volkswagen bus on the westbound span, 175 feet above the bay, at about 11 p.m. Monday and disappeared.
Coast Guardsmen, marine police and a state police helicopter searched the waters that night and Tuesday morning but found no body. Then on Wednesday afternoon a pleasure boater reported a body near the Bay Bridge, which Coast Guardsmen set out to retrieve, Freburger said.
Initially, Freburger said, police thought the body was Pase's, but while the cutter was circling to pick it up, Pase worked his way down from the bridge structure and onto a 30-foot concrete piling, where he hailed the crew.
"He saw us looking for him the first day," said Coast Guard Chief Frank Kuzmaand. "Then when we found the other body he decided to come down."
Freburger said when Pase gave himself up he was uncommunicative. "He wouldn't tell us how he got there."
But, said Freburger, "it was pretty apparent that he climbed down" from the roadway onto the bridge underpinnings. "It's not that difficult. Our painters do it every day," he said.
The recovered body was identified by police as that of Michael W. Arandt, 26, of Camden, Del., who authorities said had disappeared after abandoning his car on the bridge June 16.
The Pase incident sparked the fifth investigation into suspected suicide jumps from the bridge this year. Three bodies have been recovered, including Arandt's. The body of one suspected suicide, Kenneth Titcomb, 29, of Rockville, who was suspected of jumping in May, has not been found.