Bridge Jumping Not Illegal But Could Have Repercussions
The Missoula Police Department has received some calls this week complaining about people jumping into the river from city bridges. Officials say it's not illegal.
Though the river may seem inviting, and so might bridge jumping, it poses potential threats, especially during the spring.
"It has to do with this particular time of year when we have the spring runoff. Local rivers and streams are always very high; they are heavy and cloudy and you can't see below the surface," said Missoula Police Department Public Information Officer Travis Welsh.
Welsh explained even though it's not against the law to bridge jump and there is no city ordinance, it's all about safety and common sense. He says before you jump into any river at this time of year, there are hidden hazards to consider, like boulders or log jams below the surface.
Welsh said safety measures are not only for yourself but for your surroundings and other people around, including those floating on the river.
He points to a recent incident involving a man jumping from a bridge and crashing into a floater on the river below, breaking both of his legs and winding up in court.
If you are careless and hurt someone, you could be charged with negligent endangerment, which is a misdemeanor.
"Fines, of course, would be assessed by the court, but it could potentially be up to $500 and up to six months in jail," said Welsh.
Signs at the Madison Street footbridge say, "Caution do not jump from bridge: permanent injury or death may result." Parks and Rec posted the signs as a warning and safety reminder for the community.