Newport Beach lifeguards will be permanent fixtures at the Lido Bridge through the beginning of September in response to a surge of reports of bridge jumping, according to city officials.
The city began stepping up enforcement near the bridge, which connects Lido Isle to the Balboa Peninsula, on Thursday after two people aboard a Duffy boat suffered minor injuries two days earlier when a man jumped and landed on the vessel.
After landing on the boat, the jumper swam away from the area. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol is investigating the incident and trying to find the person, said spokesman Ray Grangoff.
A video of the incident was posted on YouTube and had been viewed more than 18,000 times as of Friday afternoon.
Jumping off bridges and piers in Newport Beach has been against city law since 1954, but it doesn’t stop people from taking the plunge.
Despite signs warning against it, recreational jumping is common as the weather heats up and makes the cool harbor water extra enticing, residents say. However, those caught jumping off the bridge could be at risk of something more severe than an adrenaline rush. They could be smacked with a misdemeanor charge, according to city municipal code.
“We’ve known this has been going on for years,” Mary Locey, a city spokeswoman, said of bridge jumping. “But this is the first time there’s been an incident with someone landing on a boat. It’s a safety issue for the people jumping and it’s a safety issue for boaters passing underneath.”
In response to the incident — and what city officials call “increased activity” in the area — city lifeguards will be posted on the bridge and the adjacent beach area daily through Labor Day. Lifeguards also will use their patrol boat to monitor the area from the water.
Lifeguards spoke with 120 passers-by Thursday about the surge in enforcement. About half had traveled to the bridge to leap into the water, said acting Battalion Chief Jon Mitchell.
Mitchell said lifeguards spoke to about 10 people at the bridge Friday.
“We’re trying to see if we can get the word out and let people know this activity is not going to happen anymore,” he said.