The assistant principal of a Mount Pleasant middle school died Tuesday morning after authorities said she jumped 200 feet off the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge.
Kathryn Dozier, 31, of Charleston, was pronounced dead at Medical University Hospital shortly after a witness saw her jump from the top of the bridge just after midnight Monday, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Bobbi Jo O'Neal said.
Dozier was on medical leave from Thomas C. Cario Middle School in Mount Pleasant and had previously taught at Alston Middle School in Summerville.
Maurice Milligan, 45, of Mount Pleasant, witnessed the incident. Milligan and his fiancee were trying to make it home by midnight and said there was little traffic on the bridge. They saw a car in the far right lane with its emergency flashers on as they approached the top of the bridge.
"I glanced over at the jogging area, and I saw someone just release and let go," Milligan said.
He told his fiancee, Donna Campbell, he'd just seen someone jump off the bridge and called 911. Campbell said that was at 12:03 a.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses on the sailing vessel Buena Vida reported a body in the water at 12:13 a.m., said Lee Bower, search and rescue coordinator. A Coast Guard boat located Dozier two minutes later and took her to Remleys Point Boat Landing in Mount Pleasant, where an ambulance was waiting.
Milligan and Campbell found it difficult to forget what had happened.
"We talked about it all night long. We didn't sleep. I was so sorry," Campbell said.
Dozier graduated with a 4.0 grade point average from Clemson University and was a state student teacher of the year, Alston Middle School principal Sam Clark said.
Dozier was a math teacher at Alston for six years, Clark said. He and Charleston County School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley described Dozier as a tremendous advocate for children.
"She was a gifted educator. All of our staff that worked with her are just sick," Clark said.
He said he had hoped that Dozier would stay with the school district, but she left in the summer of 2006 for the position in Mount Pleasant.
McGinley said Dozier had been on medical leave since November and was waiting for her doctor to release her so she could return to work. McGinley said she could not comment on the nature of the medical leave.
The faculty had a great deal of respect for Dozier, McGinley said.
"Everybody is very much in shock over this," she said.
Reach Nita Birmingham at 745-5858 or email@example.com.