Bridge Jumping May Be Dangerous, But Not Illegal
By Jillian Petrus, Reporter
LINN COUNTY, Iowa - A teenager was seriously hurt after recreationally jumping off a bridge into the Wapsipinicon River on Tuesday.
Authorities say the boy hit the water and broke his leg. The teen reportedly jumped off the Paris Road Bridge over the Wapsipinicon north of Central City. It’s one of several popular spots in Linn County for these types of thrill seekers.
Last June, an ordinance to ban this type of recreational activity had the support of Linn County Sheriff Brain Gardner, but the law failed to pass the Linn County Supervisors.
"I was hopeful last year they would make it illegal,” said Gardner, “So we could prevent this type of injury from occurring. They chose last year not to make it illegal, so there's not much we can do."
Gardner proposed fining jumpers 18-years-old or younger 100 dollars. Anyone over 18 faced a 650 dollar charge and 30 days in jail. The Board of Supervisors voted down the ordinance 3-2.
Supervisor Linda Langston said she favored the ordinance, but understands the arguments against changing the law.
"The challenging thing is you can ticket people, but the ticketing doesn't necessarily stop poor decision making,” Langston said.
The supervisors said cost also played a role in the decision. The county needed money to post no diving signs and build fencing around the bridges.
The popularity of the dangerous activity is obvious. Teens throughout Linn County say they know all about it.
"Pretty much everyone in our school does it,” said Haley Dudley, a teenager from Walker.
Gardner says deputies will still discourage jumpers when they see them. They will always look to see if the jumpers are doing anything illegal like disrupting traffic or drinking. But for now, the actual action of jumping off a bridge into water remains legal throughout the county.
So while you might break a bone jumping from the bridge, you won't be breaking the law.
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