The deadly dangers of bridge jumping

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A popular place to jump into the Chattahoochee River could soon be coming to an end after the recent deaths of two young people.

Jumping from the historic Settles Bridge in Gwinnett County is a rite of passage or a way to pass the summer hours for many young people.

One of those young people, Christian Marquez said access is a bit difficult but people manage all the time to take the 25 jump into the 50-degree water.

"It's really scary and when you're up there, it's really scary you have to hold on to it.  The water is freezing. So it feels like you're under forever," said Marquez.

Gwinnett County's Swift Water rescue team responded to Settles Bridge twice in recent weeks, at the end of July when a Mountain View High School senior drowned then a couple of days ago when a 21-year-old man drowned.

Both perished after jumping off the bridge, despite numerous posted signs warning of the dangers and penalties.

Bill Cox, the superintendent of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, which manages the Settles Bridge recreation area, said the drownings are the only ones at Settles in recent years.

"We've written citations, gave people verbal warnings, probably done over 50 of those in the last month or so," Cox.

He said he is now in talks with the State Historic Preservation Office about partially dismantling the bridge to keep jumpers off of it.

"There are some beams connected to the land can we disconnect those and still keep the cultural integrity of the bridge," said Cox.

Hayden Kennett and her boyfriend J.R. Robins, who lives nearby, stopped by to experience Settles for themselves.

"Two people have died very recently so I think that anything that can prevent that from happening would probably be a good idea," said Hayden Kennett.

The bridge was built in 1916 and is one of three old bridges over the Chattahoochee kept in place for historic reasons.

"It's a historical bridge, it's cool but I wouldn't jump off. Anybody that would want to I'd say no don't jump off," said J.R. Robbins.

Superintendent Cox said he expects to meet with Gwinnett County and the state in early September about the partial dismantling of Settles Bridge.

Cox said he hopes the recent drownings of the two young men who jumped from Settles Bridge is a wakeup call for everyone.