Man who fell off causeway while taking a 'selfie' now charged with murder

By Megan Kennedy - Digital News Editor, Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor

GALVESTON, Texas - A man who fell off the causeway in Galveston while taking a "selfie" has been charged with murder, according to arrest records.

On Thursday we learned that Billy Pettice, 38, would be extradited to Louisiana after investigators learned he was wanted for a theft of a firearm there, according to court documents.

Friday, court records revealed that Pettice was charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond in Louisiana.

Baton Rouge police said Pettice is accused of killing 20-year-old DeDawn Bush on June 13.

It all started after Pettice was taking the picture on the causeway when he fell and was rescued by a fisherman, witnesses said. He was then taken to University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital to receive treatment for injuries including some broken ribs, according to Galveston police.

While hospitalized, police learned of the warrant out for Pettice's arrest in Louisiana.

After he was released from UTMB, he will be extradited, according to court documents.

“I think he’s very fortunate, he’s fortunate,” said Capt. Shawn Warren, who helped save Pettice. “I don’t know how good a swimmer he was; he obviously ... was good enough to get to the pole.”

Warren, who owns The Galveston Fish Commander, a fishing charter, was with his friend, his friend’s 7-year-old son, and grandfather on a fishing trip last Friday.

The captain said they were facing north, between the railroad bridge and the causeway bridge, but the fish were not biting.

That’s why he looked up at the bridge and he noticed police flagging him down.

“Rarely do I look behind me, (but) because there’s traffic (cars on the bridge) going by, I did happen to look behind me and I saw several police officers and they were looking over the bridge,” Warren explained.

He said officers told him a man fell 40 feet into the water and they were waiting on a boat.

Warren steered his boat toward the man who had just fallen.

“I threw that (a flotation device) to him first and he let go of the bridge, grabbed on to it, from there I threw him a rope and I threw him a life jacket, too,” explained Warren. who said Pettice was holding onto one of the concrete pillars with two fingers initially.

The captain said he didn’t know the man’s state of mind and told Pettice there was a young boy on his boat and they didn’t want any trouble.

“When I first came up to him, I asked him his name. He said. ‘Billy.’ I said, ‘Billy, we’re here to help you.’ I said, 'Billy did you jump off that bridge?’

He said, ‘No ... I was taking a picture and I slipped.’ He said, 'I know it was stupid,'” Warren explained.

First responders took Pettice to the hospital on a stretcher with a neck brace. While hospitalized, police learned of the warrant out for Pettice's arrest in Louisiana.

After he was released from UTMB, he was extradited, according to court documents.

“One way or the other, whether he’s guilty or not, it gives him a chance to reflect and he’s blessed, he’s lucky, he’s got a second lease on life,” Warren said.

The captain said he’s grateful he was there to help. In 2004, he found a fisherman who had been reported missing, but was already deceased.

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