Terence Naphys, of Thorofare, Gloucester County, faced a dangerous choice earlier this month while driving north on the Middle Thorofare Bridge that connects the Wildwoods and Cape May.
After paying the toll Aug. 1, Naphys, 51, continued to drive his 2016 Toyota RAV 4 with three family members inside over the steel grate at the top of the bridge, the Lower Township police accident report said.
While passing over the grate, it started to rise approximately 3 to 6 feet in the air due to a large vessel trying to pass underneath, police said.
Naphys told police he decided to accelerate while the steel grate was rising for fear his vehicle would end up in the water, police said.
Naphys sped up and drove off the rising grate and onto the concrete road, causing minor damage to the front undercarriage of his vehicle due to dropping from the height the grate had already risen, police said.
No one was hurt, and there was no damage to the bridge, police said.
Charles McCullopugh, an employee for the Cape May County Bridge Commission, told police that a large vessel was approaching the bridge, but they had no contact with that vessel because their radio was down.
McCullough was in control of raising and lowering the steel grate, while another employee of the Bridge Commission flipped a switch to activate the flashing red lights and rails, police said.
McCullough told police he anticipated all vehicles being clear and all rails being down, but he wasn’t sure due to strong sun glare, police said.
Police said their initial investigation revealed the incident was caused by operator error on behalf of the bridge tender. The Cape May County Bridge Commission was notified for further investigation.