We lost our 20-year-old son, Jules Mappus, on Feb. 27, 2015, by suicide from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. There are no words to begin to describe the pain and devastation our family is going through.
There are two reasons why we are writing this letter. First, we would like to thank all of the first responders and agencies that helped us in the initial days and then weeks of this tragedy. These include the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston, William Salisbury and his staff at the Berkeley County Coroner’s Office and Chaplain Rob Dewey and the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy as well as staff and volunteers. We are so very appreciative of all of the help and assistance that we received and this includes any other agencies that we are not aware of.
The second reason for our letter is to ask that new safety measures be considered for the bridge. A higher barrier needs to be placed on the southbound lane of the Ravenel Bridge.
Our son chose the southbound lane because the existing barrier is only 34 inches high. It is very quick and easy to cross when compared to the 6.4 foot (76 inch) vertical railing along the northbound lane. Perhaps if it had taken more time and effort to cross he might have reconsidered. Or possibly someone might have seen him and tried to talk to him. Also, the cameras on the bridge are live feed only and do not record. There is a lot of activity on this bridge day and night and cameras should be recording for the public’s safety. It is hard to believe that this basic safety measure does not currently exist.
Since the bridge opened in July 2005, 20 people have died from suicide from the Ravenel Bridge. Our son was the third one this year.
We are asking the public to support our campaign for a higher barrier and cameras that record. The next time you are driving southbound on the Ravenel Bridge please notice the low existing barrier. Not only is it simple for someone to cross, it is also a safety hazard when auto accidents occur on the bridge. Please help us try to prevent another family from losing a loved one by suicide from this bridge because right now it is just way too easy. More safety measures should be considered and implemented.
BUTLER and DICK MAPPUS