A 12-year-old boy was hospitalized in serious condition when a pickup truck hit him on the Salmon Falls Bridge. The boy, according to news accounts, was getting ready to jump off the bridge. The bridge is very well known in the area as a place where children come in the summer for the excitement of leaping from a height of over 20 feet into the water. The town has issued citations, but has not created any type of obstruction to prevent children from jumping from the bridge.
An investigation into this matter will likely occur to determine whether the driver of the truck was exercising adequate caution. One issue that will need to be addressed is whether the driver knew the area was frequented by children and, if so, whether he was exercising extra caution. Maine law requires that if a driver is aware that children are playing in an area near a road he exercise reasonable caution by, among other things, reducing his speed and/or keeping a vigilant lookout for children. This situation is similar to drivers seeing children riding bicycles along a road. Under these circumstances, reasonable care would require the driver to proceed at reduced speeds that would permit the driver to avoid a collision if the child were to accidentally swerve out into the road.
Another issue that will likely be investigated is whether the State did enough to prevent children from being injured by what was clearly known to be a potentially dangerous attraction. Maine law requires owners of property to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to children by having something on the property that would attract the children and cause potentially serious injuries. Although this particular bridge was used for generations as a popular place to jump, it would need to be determined whether modifications to the bridge design could have enabled this past-time to occur while, at the same time, reducing the possibility of children being hit by oncoming vehicles.