Royse City man dies after man threatens to jump from Greenville overpass

By J.J. Smith. (Greenville Herald Banner photo) A Royse City man was killed in a traffic accident Aug. 26 caused when a man suffering from mental problems threatened to commit suicide by jumping from an overpass over I-30 in Greenville, which tied up traffic for hours and resulted in a miles-long traffic jam.

Royse City resident Jerry P. Garner, 64, was on his way to work when he crashed into a slow-moving tractor-trailer in the traffic jam and died later at Parkland Memorial Hospital, officials said.

Jack Eugene Duval Jr, 36, had climbed that Tuesday morning onto the Wesley Street overpass on I- 30 in Greenville.

Police persuaded Duval to come down after four hours on the overpass. He could be charged with obstructing a highway passageway. The Department of Public Safety is investigating the crash.

According to Kevin Herbert, pastor at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Greenville, Garner’s family was struggling with their grief but held no ill will toward Duval.

“They could be very bitter and angry against this individual, but they’re showing a lot of grace,” Herbert said. “They’re glad he didn’t get hurt. Very glad the gentleman didn’t jump from the bridge.”
Among Garner’s survivors is his nine-year-old daughter, Regina, whom he and his wife had adopted as a baby.

“It’s real hard on her,” the pastor said. “She’s a daddy’s girl.”

Garner’s son said the I-30 drive was the one his dad took to work every day.

“My dad was not a bitter or mean man,” Stephen Garner said. “He would not have wanted that guy to jump. My mom and family feel the same.

“I’m not bitter, but I feel my dad would be here if it wasn’t for this. … I thought I’d sit and have coffee with my dad when we got older, but now I won’t have that.”

It wasn’t the first time Duval has threatened to jump from the bridge, according to Greenville police. There was a similar call in June, after which he received a mental health screening and was released.

His criminal history dates to 1992. In 2006, he pleaded guilty to a string of burglaries, paid a fine and received 10 years’ probation.

He faces up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail if convicted of the highway obstruction charge. He remains in the Hunt County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Garner’s funeral was last Saturday at 11 am at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Greenville. A former Air Force Sergeant in Vietnam, he was buried with full military honors.

Neighbors and the church family have also started a fund for the family at American National Bank in Royse City.

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