4 men uninjured after jumping off bridge

Posted: Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Four Juneau men were charged with disorderly conduct after jumping off the Douglas Bridge early this morning.

Curtis Davis and Harry Williams, both 22, Michael Guthrie, 18, and Shaun Guthrie, 19, jumped off the center of the bridge on the south side at 5:56 a.m., the Juneau Police Department said. Though they were chilled by the water, none of the men was injured in the jump, police said.

When police and Coast Guard officers reached the scene, they found Davis and Williams stranded on the rocks surrounding the center support of the bridge.

The Guthries had managed to swim to safety, and were recovered on the Douglas side of Gastineau Channel, police said.

A 41-foot Coast Guard rescue boat picked up Davis and Williams and brought them to the Coast Guard dock, where they were handed over to police, said Coast Guard Chief Robert Edwardson.

None of the men was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital, the fire department said.

All four men were charged with disorderly conduct for creating hazardous conditions for the Coast Guard, emergency medical technicians and police officers who had to ensure their safety in a dangerous situation, police said.

Michael Guthrie also was charged with minor consuming, a misdemeanor.

They were lucky they weren't injured, Edwardson said.

"Depending on what the tide's doing, there could be some pretty strong currents underneath the bridge," Edwardson said. "If people get caught in the current, although they're close to shore, they may not be able to make it. Also, the water's pretty cold, so if they decide to do this, they could succumb to hypothermia pretty quick."

Though the tide was high this morning, it is possible to misgauge how deep the water might be, Edwardson added.

"If you landed wrong, you could hurt yourself on impact, and if you pick a bad spot on the bridge to jump off, you could pretty much hit bottom," Edwardson said.

Capt. Tom Porter of the Juneau Police Department agreed with Edwardson's assessment.

"Beside the fact that it's against the law, really more important is the fact that it is very unsafe and potentially fatal to jump from that height," Porter said. "It's not something we see frequently, but even one is too much."

The height of the bridge varies across its length. At a zero tide the center is 66.4 feet above the water, the city harbormaster's office said, with that distance varying with the tide.

None of the four men could be reached for comment by the Empire's midday deadline.

Genevieve Gagne-Hawes can be reached at geneviev@juneauempire.com.

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