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Jumping off bridges is risky pastime
Daring or dumb? Either way, dangers lurk below lakes surface
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Some things should go without saying. But to the daredevils who missed the memo, local law enforcement are sending the message loud and clear: Stop jumping from bridges.

"We receive numerous calls, especially during the summer months, on those particular types of incidents," Gainesville Police Department spokesman Kevin Holbrook said. "But by the time the call comes in and the officer arrives on the scene, the subjects are usually in the water, back in the boat and on to another bridge."

Holbrook said there are fines and charges a jumper could face if caught, but police usually simply try to inform people of the risks.

"They don't realize it's so dangerous because they can't see the bottom of that lake and what's underneath that water," Hall County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kiley Sargent said. "We've had drownings at (bridges) where people jumped off then just never made it back to shore."

The most common danger is when people hit the water from a high distance. According to Holbrook, the public doesn't realize that can be the same as landing on concrete from a 10-story building.

"If you happen to land wrong, it could definitely injure you," he said.

But other dangers are less obvious.

As water levels change, Holbrook and Sargent both said jumpers often can't see dangers lurking below the surface.

"When Lake Lanier was made, it was made on a city," Holbrook said. "So there are plenty of trees, buildings and other things down there that jumpers can get caught up in."

Even if everything goes smoothly getting into the water, swimming out may be a different story.

"They don't gauge the distance back to shore," Sargent said. "From where they jump into the water to the shore is longer then they expect, and a lot of times (jumpers) go under from exhaustion."

Despite the dangers, Sargent said he has handled these calls throughout the 22 years he has spent in Hall County.

McEver Bridge has become one of the more popular locations, but daredevils also jump from other locations like Dawsonville Highway and Thompson Bridge Road, according to Holbrook.

"On a hot Saturday, officers know to patrol those areas more frequently," he said. "They know they're going to be out there."

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