Woman jumping from bridge lands on kayaker in Barton Creek

AUSTIN (KXAN) - A woman jumped from a pedestrian bridge above Barton Creek near Butler Shores and landed on a man in a kayak Sunday afternoon, said the Austin Police Department. Both people were hurt.

It happened at about 3 p.m. in the 2000 block of Barton Springs Road, said Austin-Travis County EMS.

ATCEMS said the initial reports they received was that the woman jumped and landed on the end of a kayak.

APD Lake Patrol helped get the man and woman to shore where medics began treating them.

ATCEMS said both patients were taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with serious injuries that were not expected to threaten their lives.

KXAN found there's not much of a deterrent in place to prevent people from jumping from bridges into Barton Creek or the Colorado River. 

There's signage and verbal warnings from park rangers who occasionally patrol the area for starters, then a misdemeanor charge if you're caught. The fine can be anywhere between $25 and $75. 

Howard Barnett owns Zilker Park Boat Rentals and said in his nearly 50 years in business, this is the first time anyone has ever jumped and landed on one of its boats. 

"She was very fortunate that she didn't kill our boater. Because that's a 26-foot drop and could have hit somebody right on the head," Barnett said, who encourages all of his customers not to jump. 

Kyle Rhodes told KXAN he's out on Barton Creek 2-3 times a week stand up paddleboarding. 

"On a hot day, on a busy day, usually see a group of people every now and again jumping off," he said. 

Rhodes says he's learned to paddle to the sides under the bridges, just to be safe. 

"You can't always plan for people to obey it but you can kind of watch out for yourself a little bit," he said, adding, “It’s definitely a reason to keep paying attention, just be a little bit more wary when I go through that section, for sure.”

Parks and Recreation says it plans to post on social media, reminding people of the dangers and how to take care of our parks. 

"We also go out there in the field and we talk to people who are jumping, but normally, when people see us and they are jumping, they stop," Park Ranger program manager LeAnn Ishcomer said. "You never know what could be under the water. You can't see full on to the bottom. There could be construction debris, rebar, concrete." 

Not only is it illegal to jump from any bridge over the Colorado River, it's against the law to swim or even get in the water at Lady Bird Lake. The reason: poor water quality and leftover debris from bridges and dams. 

In 2012, a man who jumped from a pillar near Lamar and Cesar Chavez got impaled by a metal rod. The rebar went into his foot and leg. Medics gave him pain medicine, then carefully pulled him off the rod. 

"It could have been a lot worse," Barnett said of Sunday's incident. "Do not do it." 

KXAN wanted to know just how many people have actually been fined for jumping off a bridge, into the water in Austin. We requested numbers from the past three years from the Austin Police Department, but have not yet heard back. 

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