Despite the “No diving or jumping” signs posted around the bridge, tourists have leaped from the bridge, almost as a rite of passage on the island. The Vineyard Gazette reported, “Once on scene, police learned several employees of a local restaurant traveled to the bridge, four individuals jumped off the bridge. Two individuals began to struggle in the current.”
The ‘Jaws Bridge’ has been worrisome for locals for years
Tides changes and strong currents around the bridge, called the American Legion Memorial bridge, worried locals for years. Comments on the Vineyard Gazette story reflected concerns. “I cringe as I pass the bridge everyday packed with excited kids, tweens, young adults bursting with adrenaline to make that jump and cross it off their bucket list. Sadly excitement can quickly turn into a tragedy in a split second and forever all involved are never the same. Condolences to the families + friends of the two people lost and prayers to the first responders for doing a most difficult job,” one person posted in the comments thread.
Another person added that a friend saved him from drowning in the exact same spot the previous week because of a strong current.
‘Jaws Bridge’ jumpers encouraged despite warnings
A Martha’s Vineyard blogger noted that despite the warnings, jumpers were encouraged to make the leap.
“As you approach to see a cluster of shirtless tourists in line waiting to jump into the water, right behind them is a road sign that reads, ‘No Jumping or Diving from Bridge’ and below it, ‘Keep off Bridge Rail,'” from the This Week on MV.
“But this doesn’t seem to phase anyone, as the Jaws Bridge Jump serves as a sort of ‘summer rite of passage’ for many tourists visiting the island, on a sunny day people of all ages can be seen jumping, flipping, hesitantly falling, and belly flopping off of this wooden railing precipice at all hours of the day. Cars even honk in acknowledgement as they drive by, because everyone knows that this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do and a requisite when visiting or vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard.”
‘Jaws Bridge’ jumpers worked on the island
A group of people jumped from the bridge late Sunday night, police believe. “Two did not remain with the group and that group called in that they have two missing friends,” Edgartown police lieutenant Chris Dolby told the Vineyard Gazette. The body of Tavaris Bulgin, 26, of Clarendon, Jamaica was found and his brother, Tavaughn Bulgin, 21 is still missing.
Both men worked at a local restaurant in Oak Bluffs. Officials continue to search for Tavaris Bulgin.
Someone recalled a close call at the Jaws Bridge last summer in the Vineyard Gazette thread. “You seem to have forgotten that last year someone almost died at the little bridge. That person suffered a neck injury and would have drowned if not for the fact that there were firefighters from offisland in the immediate area. Signs on the Big bridge have been defaced. People stand on the railing separating the road and the bridge all the time, one large gust of wind could knock them into oncoming traffic. Just the other day, a video of a woman try to jump but falling backwards onto the walkway showed up on Instagram. The situation has gotten out of control and honestly there needs to be some measures to prevent more tragedies from happening.”