Jersey Family Nearly Killed When Drawbridge Opens Beneath Their Car

CourthouseTalk about a close call!

Picture this: You’re driving on the Middle Thorofare Bridge for a night in historic Cape May. You pay the toll and start down the bridge. When suddenly, something seems terribly, terribly wrong. You’re not just moving forward. You’re moving up. The bridge is opening to let a boat pass, and you’re trapped on a rapidly inclining hill. If you don’t act now, you might fall backwards onto the roof of your car, injuring yourself and family. And if you keep moving, you could end up in the middle of deep bay water, trapped in your vehicle.

Family Survives Harrowing Bridge Scare

It sounds like something out of a “Fast and Furious” film, but a New Jersey family recently experienced this very scenario. Terence Naphys and his family were driving on the bridge when a boat crossed their path. And due to a series of mistakes and lack of communication, the bridge began to rise. At first, the family did not notice. But at the last minute, Jacqueline, Terence’s wife, shouted out a warning to her husband. Terence then made an instinctual, immediate decision that may have saved his family’s lives: he floored it. The family’s Toyota RAV4 shot off the end of the bridge and landed safely on the other side.

It wasn’t until the landing that the family realized that it was no small gap they had just jumped. A panicked motorist who had followed the group parked and started shouting, believing the family had driven into the bay.

Though shaken, the family did not suffer any apparent injuries, although the possibility for late onset symptoms has not been ruled out. Their vehicle suffered little outward damage, but was ruined structurally to the tune of $10,000.

How did this happen? Police say the initial investigation blamed operator error on behalf of the person controlling the bridge. The operator blamed strong sun glare for his failure to notice the RAV4 on the bridge. Another contributing factor was the boat passing underneath, which did not have a functioning radio, meaning that the bridge operator could not communicate with it.

Spevack Law Firm has assisted personal injury victims in New Jersey since 1928.



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