It can be tough to beat the heat in Missoula—and lately the heat has been something fierce. How fierce? Well, it got so hot last week that a road in Yellowstone National Park melted. We're no Mark Heyka, but that means it's pretty darn hot.
When it gets this hot around here, locals tend to follow a basic game plan: grab a tube, a fly rod, a raft, a cooler, maybe even a waterproof boom box, and head directly to the nearest body of water for a soothing dip or float. The problem with this game plan, of course, is that everyone follows it. We end up in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 200 or searching for any remotely legal parking spot within a quarter-mile of the Sha-Ron fishing access site. It's a maddening experience, only made worse by that enraged poodle owner yelling at the dismissive boxer owner about how she's going to call the police to report an almost aggressive dog—until, that is, you finally reach the sweet reprieve of the water.
Now, however, even that reprieve is under assault—from above. We're talking about bridge jumpers who won't take a second to look before they leap.
One of them landed on Andy Hill last July, and it seemed like a freak tragedy at the time. Then it happened again to Jarrett Gann on Saturday.
Both incidents occurred under Bandmann Bridge, which crosses the Clark Fork just south of Sha-Ron. Hill was tubing when Corey Allen Hewitt landed on him. Hill was knocked out, dragged to shore and taken to St. Pat's, where he found out he'd suffered broken bones and torn ligaments in both legs.
Last weekend, just two weeks after Hewitt was found guilty of criminal endangerment for his jump, Charles David Ament drank "a substantial amount of alcohol" and performed a "handstand on the bridge railing" before he fell onto Gann, who'd just jumped into the river himself, according to court documents. Gann was knocked out, dragged to shore and treated at St. Pat's for a head laceration and a concussion.
We're all for letting loose, enjoying the river, blasting our waterproof boom box and even entering the water with a certain flair (cannonball!), but there's a difference between being carefree and careless. When it's 90 degrees out and the roads are melting, the parking spaces are all gone and even the dogs are freaking out, the last thing anyone should be worrying about is some yahoo landing in their lap.