Driver forced to gun engine and jump rising drawbridge

Lawrence Kim
August 19, 2017

Terrence Naphys said he and his family were heading to Cape May on August 1 for a day of shopping and eating when they nearly ended up plunging 65 feet off the Middle Thorofare Bridge.

As he was crossing the steel grate, it began to rise 3 to 6 feet because a vessel was trying to cross, police said.

Officials in Cape May County say operator error is to blame after a drawbridge began to open with a driver still on it.

"He accelerated, and of course then we landed with a big impact on the concrete on the side", his wife Jackie recalled the terrifying moment.

According to the New Jersey State Police, Terrence Naphys just finished paying the toll when they continued toward the top of the bridge.

The bridge tender told police he activated the bridge's lights and gates in anticipation that all vehicles would be clear.

"I will never ever drive that bridge or probably any drawbridge again", he said. "[The employee] advised me that he anticipated all vehicles being clear, and all rails being down, but wasn't sure due to a strong sun glare".

According to troopers, a bridge employee in control of operating the steel grate may not have seen the Naphys family's vehicle going over the bridge due to sun glare. Their Toyota RAV4 sustained some minor damages in the jump. State police indicated that a vessel was attempting to pass under the bridge and clarified that they thought the metal gate was cleared when they chose to open it. We take the safety of the traveling public very seriously and systems are in place to prevent incidents like the one that has been reported from occurring.

While Naphys is proud of his white-knuckle heroics, he says he's officially retired from jumping the Middle Thorofare Bridge.

"Not anyone from the bridge commission".

Terrence said he thinks if he hadn't jumped across the rising bridge, his family could have been seriously hurt. "Basically we would like to see something happen".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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