Cranberry Lake swimmers warned to stay off bridge

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:50

    BYRAM-A series of photos published in this newspaper of local teenagers jumping from the top of Cranberry Lake Bridge drew complaints from some members of the community and from the Bryam police chief. "It's completely dangerous," said acting Police Chief Ray Rafferty. "Just climbing to get on top of the bridge is dangerous, much less jumping off. The water is only six to eight feet deep." The practice is also illegal, he said. For days before the photos were published on June 23, teens had gathered to use the pedestrian bridge to jump into the water. The activity took place within easy view from nearby Route 206 and from many homes on the lake shore. However, in a phone interview, Rafferty acknowledged the department had not received calls reporting the illegal activity. "Not that I am aware of," he said. "But I would have to look at the reports from that day to tell you yes or no." Rafferty said the police are called several times each year to disperse similar gatherings. "The only designated areas to swim are the beaches for members only," Rafferty said. "They can boat or water ski and swim from a boat, but that is it." Both the police and the Cranberry Lake Community Club objected to the publication of the photos. "It doesn't matter where those photos were taken from," Rafferty said. "It's sensationalizing something that's happening in the area and I think that's what has everyone upset." In a letter to the editor, the Cranberry Lake Community Club wrote that it is "extremely disappointed with the irresponsible decision made by The Township Journal to share images of young people engaging in illegal, and more importantly, very dangerous acts." (Please see page 10 for the complete letter.) Jeanne Straus, president of the newspaper company, responded that "the job of The Township Journal is to report what's happening in our community. What's happening? In hot, humid weather young people are risking injury by jumping off the Cranberry Lake Bridge in full view from Route 206, from whence the pictures were taken, and a number of houses. According to the police, no one called to report the incident. Is the community better off knowing this is going on? Our answer is a resounding yes. The role of a responsible independent community weekly newspaper is to make readers aware of what's happening and then let them decide what action, if any, should be taken. To those who have expressed anger at the paper's decision to publish these photos, we say ‘don't kill the messenger.' If anybody thought we were glorifying this, we're sorry. We're just reporting what we saw and what's happening. Now the police and the community as a whole need to decide what to do with the information."