A teenager broke his leg jumping off an eastern Iowa river bridge this week, but the Linn county sheriff does not expect the incident to reverse the Linn County Board of Supervisors’ opposition to a ban on bridge jumping. Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner had proposed fines for those caught jumping off bridges.
“There are a couple of specific areas in Linn County where bridge jumping is fairly popular and it became apparent to us that this could be a problem for us as far as potential injuries, so last spring I went before the board of supervisors after contacting the county attorney’s office and the county attorney’s office helped us develop a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited bridge jumping in Linn County — made it illegal,” Gardner says.
“And we presented it to the board of supervisors and they chose not to make that activity illegal.” This past Tuesday a teenage boy jumped off the Paris Road Bridge, north of Central City, into the Wapsipinicon (WAHP-see-PIN-ih-kon) River.
“it’s just a typical roadway bridge over a body of water. It’s probably 20-30 feet above the waterway,” Gardner says. “The problem is, as most Iowa waterways are — especially rivers, the water’s murky. It has varying depths and especially as dry as it’s been here in Iowa…there’s not a whole lot of water in the river, so that compounds the problem.”
The ordinance Gardner sought would have imposed a $100 fine on people under the age of 18 who were caught jumping off a bridge. Adults would have been fined $650 for the activity, and could have been sent to jail for a month. Gardner says the issue is now out of his hands.
The sheriff says the board of supervisors has made it clear to him they aren’t interested in the ordinance. “The board is very much aware of the problem,” Gardner says. “Although they understand there is a potential for injuries and they understand the bridge jumping is foolish, the have (chosen) to take the stance that they are not going to make it illegal and that’s kind of where we stand.”
Bridge jumping has become a fad among thrill-seeking teenagers who post the videos of their jumps online, but chasing the thrill can be dangerous — even deadly. A fifth-grade girl from a Chicago suburb died in May while playing a bridge-jumping game with friends.