GRANTS PASS — A man allegedly jumped from a Grants Pass bridge into the Rogue River's swift currents Friday night, prompting an extensive search of the nearby waters and shoreline that continued through the weekend into Monday.
Police said a witness saw a man jump from the E.D. "Debbs" Potts Memorial Bridge, on Highway 199 in Grants Pass, around 10:20 p.m. The witness flagged down a police officer with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety. A separate 911 caller also reported having seen the jump, police officials reported.
"From what I understand, police officers who arrived on scene checked the immediate area and didn't observe anybody in the water," said Lt. Dennis Ward.
Witnesses said the jumper was a male 16 to 20 years old, between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a thin build and black hair. Officers were unable to find anyone during a preliminary search of the area.
They did find a black Huffy Santa Fe mountain bike, blue jeans a green long-sleeved shirt, leather sandals and a yellow Bic lighter. Police did not find any identification on the discarded belongings, and no one returned to the scene to claim any of them.
Police and the Josephine County Sheriff Department's Search & Rescue and Marine Patrol units scoured the riverbank at Baker Park and the surrounding area over the weekend, but were unable to turn up any evidence that someone had come out of the water.
Marine Patrol officials could not be reached for additional comment Monday.
Whether the jump was intended as a suicide attempt or for fun is still not known. But Ward said people who jump from the bridge are always risking their life.
"Some people jump from that bridge, and they can jump 30 times and they're OK. Sometimes they can jump once and hit the rocks," Ward said. "You can hit the rocks or the current can take you. We've had some drownings in that particular area over the years because the current is really strong."
Stories in the Mail Tribune archives show a 63-year-old man survived after a May 2012 jump, but that two men who leapt from the bridge in August 2004 died.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety at 541-450-6260 and refer to case No. 2013-32556.
"If that person did make it, we'd like to know. We have a lot of people out there looking for them," Ward said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.