The Linn County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Wednesday before deciding against banning thrill seekers from jumping off bridges. Sheriff Brian Gardner requested the ban, saying the calls about bridge jumpers have continued to increase.
Gardner says they’ve had more complaints this year than in the past, and in June they had near-daily phone calls this summer about juveniles jumping off highway bridges into the Cedar River and Wapsipinicon Rivers. Gardner says most of the calls are for juveniles jumping off the bridges.
He says the craze is no doubt driven by on-line videos of kids jumping off bridges. Gardner has been part of the county dive team, and says the Cedar River is so dirty that there is no visibility once you get in the water. He says the bottom is ever changing and that is one of the reasons the water is so murky, and the current pulls in debris.
Gardner says a location that may be good to jump one day, is not good the next as the river is constantly changing. Cedar Rapids Prairie senior Chris Hamdorf came to the hearing with his government class. He thought the sheriff overstressed the dangers of bridge jumping.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, it’s just jumping off into water. It’s almost like a big diving board. It’s almost like the police station’s getting bored. Because they’re doing the whole, no texting while driving, and that kind of stuff, and then this bridge jumping thing,” Hamdorf says, “It’s almost like they’re trying to figure out more things to get us with.”
He doesn’t think county officials should care about the bridge jumping. “I think they should worry about the more important things,” Hamdorf says. The supervisors conceded the practice was dangerous, but four of the five said it was an issue of personal responsibility, better handled with education, not legislation.