San Diego

‘Be Like Bob': Memorial Held for Man Who Died in Fall From Pine Valley Bridge

A man who died while trying to help a driver stranded on an icy Pine Valley bridge was remembered by friends and family as a true hero, not just in his final act but throughout his life.  

Dozens of people gathered at the Marina Village in Mission Bay on Sunday to remember Robert "Bob" Verlin Bruno Jr, who died in a fall from the Pine Valley Creek Bridge while trying to avoid an oncoming crash.  

Bruno had stopped in the early hours of Feb. 6 to help a truck driver who spun out on a patch of ice in the middle of the bridge that spans some 400 feet in the air. 

Bruno's fiancée Gwen Sneed said it didn't surprise her that the man she loved rushed to the aid of another, though it doesn't make the loss any easier.  On Sunday, she said her healing journey has just begun.

"It's the hardest journey I've ever gone through,” Sneed told NBC 7. "I know that I have hundreds of people to help me."

Those gathered in Mission Bay recalled their cherished memories with Bruno.

Megan Hefti shared her final exchange with her dear friend: "The last moment we had together was him walking out of the studio getting his hair cut and I said I love you, Bob."

She also remembered his compassion for others. 

"I said before, I feel like if someone, a homeless person, dropped their shopping cart he would have pulled over," Hefti continued.

Bruno was attempting to avoid a multi-vehicle crash when he ran to the side of the bridge railing and jumped over, California Highway Patrol said.

The bridge in San Diego's East County is one of the highest in the U.S. at 450 feet tall. Bruno did not survive the fall.

Bruno's body was found in a snow-covered canyon under the bridge by a chopper that was weaving through support beams during the search.

He had just celebrated his 48th birthday two weeks prior. 

He was just somebody who went out of his way because that was the right thing to do," Sneed said.

While Sneed said the void in her heart may never be filled, she hopes Bruno's heroism that foggy February morning is what Bruno will be remembered by. 

"Be like Bob. Be a hero; be like Bob." 

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