A San Diego police officer watched as at least one Navy enlisted man and three other people plunged from the 200-foot-high bridge separating San Diego and Coronado and alerted Harbor police shortly before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to San Diego police. The sailors had a 33-foot power boat waiting in the San Diego Bay below.
San Diego Police Lt. Scott Wahl said an officer was on the bridge behind the vehicle carrying the four jumpers.
"He was on a radio call looking for somebody who was suicidal, and he decided to drive up on the bridge to see if he could locate the person up there…and while he was doing that, the car in front of him came to a stop. Four guys jumped out and jumped over the side of the bridge…so you can imagine what the police officer was thinking at the time," Wahl said.
Wahl said the men had terrible timing.
"We happened to have assets in the air, on the ground, and in the water," he said.
The San Diego Police Department's Airborne Law Enforcement Unit (ABLE) chopper saw the men’s chutes deploy and watched as they landed in the water, where a getaway boat was waiting.
"So by the time we actually got on the scene, the individuals had already boarded the vessel and were leaving the area," said Sgt. Todd Rakos of the San Diego Harbor Police.
Rakos said they arrived just on time.
"The only violation that we actually witnessed was the speeding vessel. So we issued the citation to the driver for his speed," Rakos said.
The boat operator, identified as 27-year-old Alec Gragg, was cited, according to Rakos. He confirmed Gragg is also a sailor in the Navy.
Harbor police officers cited the jumpers and released them, authorities said. It was not immediately clear whether they would face additional punishment from the Navy.
"Unfortunately, there’s no clear penal code section that says you cannot jump off the Coronado Bridge, which would make this very easy. So it’s more of a public nuisance-type crime, so we’re evaluating exactly how that would look, be issued and followed up in court today," Wahl said.
This jump was not connected to any Naval exercises. The four men are part of a group called 'Jump Zone.'
NCIS is now investigating and working with SDPD on the case.