Lifeguards stationed on the Lido Bridge at Newport Harbor stopped 231 would-be bridge jumpers in the first two weeks since taking up the post to combat the popular but risky and illegal stunt.
Newport Beach Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller told the city Harbor Commission on Wednesday that lifeguards foiled the prospective jumpers with verbal warnings but called for police backup twice “because there were a group of individuals who weren’t ready to fully listen.”
City lifeguards have been patrolling the span, which connects Lido Isle to the Balboa Peninsula, since July 26, two days after a man leapt from the railing and landed on a passing Duffy boat before swimming away. The impact injured a passenger on the boat and damaged the vessel’s canopy.
The incident was captured on video and a Costa Mesa man was later arrested.
Lifeguards will remain on the bridge and the nearby beach area daily through Labor Day. Guards also are using their patrol boat to monitor the area from the water.
Commission Vice Chairman Scott Cunningham suggested modifying the Lido Bridge barriers — rows of vertical bars topped by smooth horizontal railings — to more closely resemble those on the Marine Avenue Bridge connecting the Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island. There, the vertical bars jut several inches above the horizontal crossbar and effectively act as spikes.
Adding foliage along the slope that connects the Lido Isle bridge and the adjacent beach also could keep people from running back up to the bridge to jump again, Cunningham said.
Newport Beach has long had a city law against bridge jumping, and signs warn against it. But residents say it’s an enticing summertime activity that some also view as a rite of passage.