By WILLIAM CLARK
The Shark River can seem enticing during hot summer days. But Neptune Police warn that jumping into the river from the Route 35 or New Jersey Transit bridges could be dangerous.
The NTPD made this clear in a recent Facebook post after receiving calls from concerned citizens.
With trains running frequently throughout the day and underwater danger lurking, the department wants to make sure that residents are aware of the various hazards that come with jumping into the river at that location.
“We’re just lucky it hasn’t resulted in something more serious,” Captain Michael McGhee of the NTPD said. “The odds are going to dwindle.”
In addition to the trains that come through at a high rate of speed, there are large rocks and support structures around the bridges that may not be visible from the surface. The department also warns of the strong tides and high boat traffic.
“The low light increases the chance of being struck by a passing boat,” the post states.
Natural hazards are also present in the form of strong tidal currents.
McGhee said most of the calls about jumpers refer to the lower span of the bridge that connects through Seaview Island.
With residents, motorists and business patrons in the area, the possibility of a jumper being mistaken for someone in distress also poses the danger of unnecessary emergency responses to the area.
“When a passing motorist calls 911 to report a person about to jump off of a bridge, a large emergency response begins immediately as the dispatcher is not able to differentiate between kids jumping into the water for fun and a much more serious incident until first responders actually arrive on scene,” the post states.
McGhee said the department doesn’t keep a boat on standby so one would have to be deployed making an emergency in this area difficult to respond to.
“There are so many different variables: weather, tide, where they are,” he said. “It can be cumbersome and time consuming just to get there. God forbid somebody ends up in the water unconscious.”
McGhee said that the department has tried to be educational, informing those jumping into the water that they could face arrest or summonses. But each day from mid-morning through the evening, different groups of young people are taking the opportunity to cool down in the river by making a dangerous choice.
The idea is also being spread online.
“No doubt that this is something that is perpetuated amongst peer groups on social media and gained some legs,” McGhee said. “It’s gaining popularity.”
McGhee encouraged anyone that sees people using these bridges to jump into the water to inform the police immediately.