Riding the Aerial Bridge’s Lift Span
“The bridge operators hated it,” Bridge Supervisor Ryan Beamer said in 2007. “It made extra work for them, and also created safety concerns that had nothing to do with the bridge’s practical operation.” Chief Operator Don Bowen validated Beamer’s words back in 1967: “This passenger thing really has been nerve-wracking,” he told a local reporter. “Now, instead of stopping people, when the bells ring, it’s like a dinner bell. People just come running aboard.”
Those safety concerns became all too real the day when one woman panicked. As the bridge began to rise, she opened the gate and ran toward the North Pier. Fortunately operator Richard Lyons was keeping an eye on the passengers and quickly shifted the bridge into reverse. But the bridge lost its race with the fleeing woman. When she reached the end of the bridge deck, it was still twenty feet in the air. She jumped and landed on the pier, but not without sustaining serious injuries. If Lyons had not stopped and reversed the bridge, she very well may have died. Despite the bridge operators’ dislike of the rides, they continued until 1973.