OCEAN CITY — An ordinance prohibiting the jumping from bridges within city limits will have its introduction and first hearing at Thursday night’s City Council meeting.
“You hate to regulate stupidity,” said Capt. Steve Ang, public information officer for the Ocean City Police Department. “People should know better than to jump off bridges. It’s dangerous. You don’t know what’s in the water.”
Ang said the incidence of people jumping from bridges, primarily from the Rush Chattin Bridge at the city’s southernmost end and the Ocean City-Longport Bridge at its northernmost tip, has been growing the last few years.
Complaints from summer 2014 averaged one a week for eight to 10 weeks regarding jumpers who leapt into the water at Corsons Inlet, he said, while reports of jumpers from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, where the fixed span is 60 feet, were more sporadic.
“We’re going to regulate this with a city ordinance so we have some teeth if it happens,” Ang said of jumping. “We want to put a stop to it.”
Social media and the craze of posting a video online of oneself participating in phenomena such as the Cold Water Challenge and the Ice Bucket Challenge spawned copycat acts, Ang said.
“The last thing we want is to put another law on the books,” he said. “But it really snowballed with people posting videos of themselves jumping off bridges last year. Next year, if they film themselves, we’ll go find them.”
He said offenders have ranged in age from impulsive teenagers to adults who may have imbibed a little too freely in alcohol. Regardless of the jumper’s age, the act is dangerous, Ang said.
“It’s like jumping into a black hole,” he said. “Once you jump, it’s too late to stop it.”
Enacting a law making it illegal to jump and attaching a monetary fine or community service as a consequence will hopefully make people think twice before taking a leap, Ang said.
“We’d rather fine you than drag a body out of the water,” he said. “That’s why the city is taking the initiative on this.”
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