Updated August 11
New signs warning people against jumping off Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs and Big Bridge, also known as “Jaws Bridge,” in Edgartown were installed on Wednesday. During a Dukes County Commissioners Zoom meeting, county manager Martina Thornton updated commissioners on the signs.
The signs, particularly at Little Bridge, were set up because of the injuries people have sustained while jumping off them. Last August, a young man jumped off Little Bridge and suffered a serious neck injury.
Christine Todd, chair of the Dukes County commissioners, said she still sees people jumping off the bridges, and has received multiple calls from concerned residents. People are not heeding the signs. Todd wanted to know whether it would be better to be “more cryptic” with the signs and allude to the injuries people have gotten from jumping off Little Bridge. There have not been any serious injuries or deaths from people jumping off Big Bridge.
Thornton said the signs are very clear. They come with an infographic showing a diving person’s head hitting the rocks below. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” said Thornton.
Commissioner Leon Brathwaite asked whether the commissioners would face liability issues if an injury occurred on the bridge after the signs were put up. Thornton said there would be no liability issues for the county since the bridge and the highway are state-owned. So the commissioners can put up the sign, but there is a limit to what they can do to the bridges.
Thornton said she has already sent many letters asking the state to redesign Big Bridge to prevent jumping.
Commissioner Tristan Israel echoed the state’s unresponsiveness to fixing the bridges’ problems. At one point, the commissioners wanted to build a barrier between the bridge and the road to mitigate dangerous situations. “The state kind of blew us off on that, and I think that is another accident that is waiting to happen,” said Israel.