Ann Arbor authorities discourage bridge jumping after tragedy on Huron River

‘Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by today’s incident,’ AAFD wrote on Facebook

Bridge over the Huron River at Bandemer Park. (Wikimedia Commons)

ANN ARBOR – Officials are warning residents of the hidden dangers after a male high school student drowned in the Huron River on Wednesday.

Emergency personnel were called at 2:27 p.m. to respond to an incident in the area of Bandemer Park.

A group of students from Skyline and Pioneer high schools had been jumping off the Amtrak bridge west of the park into the river when one person began to drown, according to officials.

“Our understanding is that the patient had jumped in, came back up, went under and then stayed under,” said Ann Arbor fire chief Mike Kennedy. “Some other people on the river not affiliated with the group heard the commotion and were able to remove the patient from the water.”

Kennedy said the Ann Arbor police and fire departments and Washtenaw County Sheriff officers arrived on the scene simultaneously and were able to get the patient onto the roadway where CPR was performed and a pulse was detected. The patient was then transported to University of Michigan hospital in critical condition, said Kennedy.

The patient was pronounced dead later in the evening, according to Ann Arbor police.

“There’s a huge lack of appreciation for how dangerous that river is,” said Kennedy. “There’s trees and debris and -- depending on rain fall -- the current changes. People think it’s this kind of tranquil river and it’s anything but.”

He said the first responders were shocked that anyone had attempted to swim in the river on Wednesday, since water temperatures were in the 40s.

Jumping from bridges in the Ann Arbor area is illegal and dangerous.

Officials have cautioned residents to wear lifejackets when operating boats on the river. Recent high water conditions have caused delays in the opening of Argo Park canoe livery and have prevented community members from taking boats out on the Huron River.

“This is a horrific tragedy and if we can use this to educate some people that’s my goal,” said Kennedy.

About the Authors:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.