Two Wisconsin residents – one a high school student – scaled the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin side and performed stunts on top of the north tower more than 700 feet above the water with no safety equipment, posting the video of their antics on social media.
Bridge officials at a press conference Tuesday condemned the actions – which they became aware of earlier this month – but insisted the pair could not have harmed the span. Trespassing on the bridge is a misdemeanor, but the two were not caught and no citations were issued.
An 18-year-old high school student using the pseudonym Peter Teatime told the Independent Journal he has been climbing tall structures for years, but that the Golden Gate Bridge was the “coolest” so far.
“I have climbed tall buildings and cranes, but this is the coolest thing because it is so famous,” he said. “My heart was pumping, but at the same time there is a calm, a peacefulness.”
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The following video shows illegal and dangerous activity on the Golden Gate Bridge, which officials are investigating.
The daredevil said he always wanted to scale the span, so during Easter break in early April he and his partner, who goes by the pseudonym Tommy Rector – who is in his early 20s – flew to San Francisco to make the climb.
“We just sort of came out and did it, there was not a plan really,” Teatime said. “We ended up on that (Marin) side and went from there.”
The pair climbed 30 feet up the bridge’s vertical steel suspended ropes, then onto one of the span’s main cables and then to the top of the north tower. Once there, they hung off the side of beams, rolled around and let their feet dangle at dizzying heights.
“I’m so used to climbing, I don’t get scared,” the young climber said, adding his parents are aware of his climbing but that he keeps them in the dark on details. “It wasn’t too windy, either. It was amazing being up there and taking in all the views.”
The pair climbed the span at about 3 a.m., Teatime said, adding that the pair would wait to do their stunts when traffic was not flowing below.
“My mindset is that I do not want to put people at risk, or property. If there was an accident, I don’t want to hurt anyone,” he said, adding he would have some security tips to pass on to bridge officials if asked. “As long as we are not hurting anyone, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Teatime said he and his fellow daredevil were on the bridge for about an hour.
“Coming down was easy. Once we got down, I was thinking how sick (cool) it was,” he said. “Not many people go where we went.”
Bridge officials were not amused. Denis Mulligan, bridge general manager, called the pair “reckless individuals.”
“The action of these individuals did not harm the structure, nor could they have harmed the structure,” said Mulligan, who compared the action to someone running onto the White House lawn. “We will reassess protocols. … It’s not a cause for alarm.”
The span has hundreds of cameras – one can be seen on top of the tower in the video – but bridge staff monitors those trained on areas where the bridge is vulnerable. The Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a government security agency, will conduct an assessment of the span and suggest changes to security, bridge officials said.
“I want to assure you the bridge is safe,” said bridge Capt. Lisa Locati. “Our security systems are developed to keep people from harming the structure. They are not designed to prevent thrill-seekers.”
This was not the first time the span has been scaled. In August 2012, a man climbed the span and spent the night on the south tower under cover of thick fog. In April 2008, the bridge was scaled by two Sausalito men and an Oakland woman to protest China’s treatment of Tibet and the impending arrival of the Olympic torch.
In February 2001, a group of students from the University of British Columbia crept onto the span under the cover of thick morning fog and, within minutes, suspended from the bridge the shell of a red Volkswagen Beetle, part of an engineering school prank.
In November 1996, actor Woody Harrelson and eight others tied up traffic for hours when they scaled the bridge cables and put up banners to create awareness about Northern California redwood forests.