Report: Two men were climbing under Ravenel Bridge for fun activity called parkour
The morning after their antics landed them in jail, two men police said risked their lives for fun 180 feet above the Cooper River stood before a judge.
James Chad Tomberlin, 21, and Kahrall Arkeen Wright, 18, who reportedly told police their Monday afternoon jaunts beyond the railings of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge were part of a thrill-seeking fad called “parkour” — rapidly moving around objects — cracked smiles in court.
Magistrate Linda Lombard wasn’t amused.
“If you want to play parkour, I suggest you go to Las Vegas and join the Cirque du Soleil as opposed to calling the fire department, the police department and the bomb squad,” Lombard told the defendants.
“While you’re smiling, you’re the only two people in Charleston County smiling,” she added.
Tomberlin and Wright, who are roommates in a Charleston apartment, are charged with disorderly conduct. Lombard set bail for each at $262.
Mount Pleasant and Charleston police and fire departments, the Charleston police bomb squad and a Coast Guard boat all responded to the young men’s climbing over the bridge’s railing. Traffic on the bridge was disrupted for hours.
A firefighter dangling from a ladder truck and with a harness plucked Wright from below the bridge. Police who saw Wright climbing six feet under the span believed it was too dangerous for him to try to climb back to the upper side of span.
Mount Pleasant police said Tomberlin and Wright insisted they were just trying to have fun when they walked up the bridge’s hiking and biking lane and ventured beyond the railings designed to separate people from the waters far below.
Officers came to the bridge about 5:30 p.m. Monday after a caller reported two men climbing near the bridge’s easternmost tower. When officers arrived, Tomberlin was kneeling near the railing of the pedestrian walkway, while Wright was sitting on a beam below the pavement, a police report said.
“Tomberlin stated that he had just climbed back over the rail but his friend was still under the bridge,” the report said.
Dangling from the ladder of a firetruck, a firefighter was lowered into the opening around the tower, and then the fireman and Wright were hoisted to safety.
The incident affected bridge traffic northbound on U.S. Highway 17 for more than two hours. Because Tomberlin was carrying a backpack, Charleston police bomb squad experts checked under the bridge for any sign of tampering or damage, but nothing was found.
The police report said that the bomb squad was called “out of an abundance of caution.”
Police found a small, wooden pipe in the backpack that “appeared to be used to smoke marijuana,” the report stated. Tomberlin was issued a courtesy summons for possession of drug paraphernalia, the report said.
According to the report, Tomberlin left a Volkswagen Golf that is registered to a Taylors, S.C., resident parked in a Cooper Street lot in Charleston, near the bridge approaches.
The vehicle was towed away by police as Tomberlin and Wright were taken to jail.
Police were not amused, but the police report linked the incident to parkour. “The subjects stated that they do things like this for fun,” the report said.
According to AmericanParkour.com, a website that boasts 90,000 registered users, “Parkour is the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment.”
“Parkour training focuses on safety, longevity, personal responsibility and self-improvement,” the website says. “It discourages reckless behavior, showing off and dangerous stunts.”
Reach Edward C. Fennell at 937-5560. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or [/URL]