Two arrested after bridge incident
Two men were arrested Monday after one of them climbed over the side of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and had to be hoisted to safety by firefighters.
After the men were taken away, a police bomb squad was dispatched to check the bridge as a precaution and to make sure the men had not left anything behind.
The incident, which caused the closure of several northbound lanes of bridge traffic at the height of rush hour, began about 5:30 p.m. when Mount Pleasant police got a call from Charleston police, according to Mount Pleasant Police Sgt. Jennifer Backman.
She said someone had called police to say that two males, one white and one black, were walking on the bridge, carrying bookbags and acting suspicious. When police arrived on the scene, they found the white male but could not find the black male, Backman said.
The black male had apparently climbed over the side and was under the bridge, she said. An officer who was in the Waterfront Memorial Park in Mount Pleasant saw the black male under the bridge and notified the police who were on top of the bridge.
Firefighters from Mount Pleasant and Charleston responded, and a ladder truck was extended and used to lower a firefighter with a harness down into the structure under the bridge so he could retrieve the black male.
Both men, whose names were not immediately available, were to be charged with disorderly conduct, Backman said.
The Coast Guard had dispatched a boat to the scene, but earlier reports that two men were climbing up the bridge from the river were innaccurate.
Neil Mann of West Ashley was running over the pedestrian walkway when he saw two men, one in a purple T-shirt and the other in a tank top, climbing around the support beam.
The man in the tank top was hanging on the fence around the Silas N. Pearman Tower. The other was already on the ladder, unprotected from falling more than 100 feet into the Cooper River. But it was the man in the tank top who eventually got snagged underneath the span during rush hour.
“I thought they were workers. They had some backpacks,” Mann said. “But when I ran back up, I saw all the cops.
“The only thing I could think of was that they were doing some work. It looked like it was just easy for them.”
Firefighters from Mount Pleasant lowered a mechanized ladder over the opening and dangled a firefighter into the doughnut-shaped hole. Police boats circled in the water below.
About 15 minutes later, a firefighter emerged with the man. Hanging from the fireman, he was uninjured.
Pedestrians and cyclists who had been kept from using the bridge’s pedestrian walkway grumbled at the inconvenience, but most cheered and clapped when the rescue was pulled off.
One gave a fireman a high-five.
The men were placed in handcuffs and taken away in a patrol car.
The incident closed two lanes of traffic for about 30 minutes and one lane for more than an hour.
Mount Pleasant police are investigating. Charleston police also responded, and Charleston firefighters responded with a ladder truck.
Check back at postandcourier.com for additional details as they become available.