Climbers on Williamsburg Bridge Spark Concerns

The sight of two people scaling the Williamsburg Bridge early Thursday sparked concerns among some witnesses on the ground, and police were called to the scene. 

Brooklyn resident Emily Bungert said she watched from her apartment window as she saw two figures climbing up the bridge, and then dangling from the concrete pillar high above the East River. 

"One of them was actually on the outside of the bridge hanging onto the edge," said Bungert, a publicist who captured the climb on her cellphone.

"I just was concerned for them. I thought basically they're idiots, what are they doing there?" she said. 

Eyewitnesses called police as one of the climbers hung upside down from the bridge. In one radio transmission, a dispatcher is heard telling police, "We have a disorderly group at the bridge, at the Williasmburg Bridge. Caller states there's a male and a female dressed in dark-colored clothing on top of the bridge taking pictures. Received two calls so far. Male caller states the male and female climbing higher on the bridge taking pictures." 

Bungert said it made her wonder whether anybody was watching the bridge. The concern is familiar to New Yorkers who have witnessed similar unauthorized bridge climbs recently. Last month, a tourist climbed the Brooklyn Bridge to take an Instagram selfie, a move blasted by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorisn John J. Miller as "stupid" but not a security breach. Miller said at the time that the tourist, David Karnauch, wouldn't have been able to get much further after reaching the crossover where he took his photo.

Last November, French tourist Yonathin Souid climbed the Brooklyn Bridge to take photos, and Russian tourist Yaroslav Kolchin climbed a beam last August. Each was sentenced to community service.

 

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A photo posted by David Karnauch (@davidkarny) on Jun 29, 2015 at 2:38pm PDT

On July 22, 2014, two bleached-white American flags were found planted on the Brooklyn Bridge span. Two German artists claimed they'd installed the flags as part of a project to celebrate the German engineer who designed the bridge.

Police have since added patrols to the Brooklyn Bridge, and Bungert wants the same security applied to the Williamsburg Bridge. By the time NYPD officers responded to the call Thursday and arrived at the bridge, the climbers were gone. 

Bungert said the outcome could have been much worse.

"If they would have let go or fallen, they would have died," she said. 

The NYPD said it was looking into whether there was a security breach on the bridge.

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