Rail jumping, swimming under bridge poses hazard

A boat passes under the Bay of Naples Bridge on Independence Day. Some boaters have encountered teens jumping off the railing below the bridge and swimming in the channel. (De Busk Photo)

A boat passes under the Bay of Naples Bridge on Independence Day. Some boaters have encountered teens jumping off the railing below the bridge and swimming in the channel. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Few things are as refreshing as jumping into the water on a hot summer day.

However, boaters have found it less than refreshing to discover children swimming in the channel between Long Lake and Brandy Bond.

Witnesses have commented that the children have not been cooperative when asked by boaters to move, or not swim in that area. The people in the boats have been unable to pass under the Bay of Naples Bridge while small groups of what appears to be preteen kids are occupying the channel.

According to Naples Harbor Master Bill Callahan, this illegal activity could one day set off a tragic turn of events.

“I am concerned about them getting hit by a boat. Someone could really get injured or worse. The person who hits a person in the water would feel like heck, and have to live with that for the rest of their lives,” Callahan said.

Typically, the bridge-jumpers are children who are young teens — old enough to spend time out of the home unattended and too young to have a driver’s license, he said. Also, this activity occurs in the afternoon and peters out around dinnertime, he said.

Usually, the teens stand on or hop over the handrailing located along the boardwalk that passes under the bridge. One problem they encounter is that because of the structure it becomes difficult to get back out of the water.

About three weekends ago, some daredevil teens jumped off the bridge into the Chute River.

POSTED — This posted sign has not deterred preteen children from jumping off the railing below the bridge — an activity that concerns Naples Harbor Master Bill Callahan. “I am concerned about them getting hit by a boat. Someone could really get injured or worse. The person who hits a person in the water would feel like heck, and have to live with that for the rest of their lives,” Callahan said. (De Busk Photo)

POSTED — This posted sign has not deterred preteen children from jumping off the railing below the bridge — an activity that concerns Naples Harbor Master Bill Callahan. “I am concerned about them getting hit by a boat. Someone could really get injured or worse. The person who hits a person in the water would feel like heck, and have to live with that for the rest of their lives,” Callahan said. (De Busk Photo)

“When I have caught them, the first thing out of their mouth is: ‘There is no sign saying we can’t do it,’” Callahan said.

While no signs have been posted below the bridge, jumping off a bridge is illegal according to state law.

Callahan said the people who are breaking the law have become wise to the boat operated by the Harbor Master. When they spot the boat, they skedaddle, he said.

“A half hour later they go to the town dock and do the same thing, jumping off the dock and getting in the way of boat traffic,” he said.

Community members have commented that the swimmers are far from cooperative with boaters.

“They were obnoxious on the (town) dock, jumping, doing flips, and wouldn’t move when asked,” a resident said.

During a recent Naples Board of Selectmen meeting, Callahan asked town officials to put up more signs — especially under the bridge.

He also requested that the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office be made aware of the situation. Perhaps, an on-duty deputy could patrol the area below the bridge.

“Maybe, one of the deputies could nab them, and take them home so their parents know that this is going on,” he said.

“I am sure the parents are unaware,” Callahan said.

“I am really concerned that someone is going to get hurt,” he said.

 

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