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Treasure Valley family asks others to 'be aware of others' on Boise River after bridge jumper sends two to the hospital

A man backflipped off of the Baybrook Bridge along the Boise River and landed on the family of five’s raft.

BOISE, Idaho —

What was supposed to be a fun Saturday cooling off on the Boise River, quickly escalated into a dangerous situation for a Treasure Valley family. 

"Having a human being come towards you at full force, it's hard to grasp what actually goes through your mind everything after that is 100% survival,” said Jay Alcala.

A man backflipped off of the Baybrook Bridge along the Boise River and landed on the Alcala and his family of five’s raft.

“People were yelling at the gentleman, 'Hey, don't do it and he ended up jumping," Alcala said.

The family said the man landed on a few of them and sent two of them to the hospital. 

"Once I was knocked out of the raft, I'd say about maybe two, three seconds I finally came to realize where I was,” Alcala said. “Kind of assessed my situation, realize I was injured." 

Alcala hurt his leg and is now crutches for the foreseeable future. Because of the physical demands of his job, he is unable to go back to work until he is better.

"I'm very uncomfortable and I definitely can't walk," Alcala said. 

As the family tries to process what unfolded, they feel grateful their injuries were not worse.

"You keep replaying it in your mind, it's just overwhelming and stressful,” said Machelle Siegel, Alcala's fiancee. “Luckily, I wasn't hit. I'm five months pregnant." 

The couple also feels fortunate that Boise Fire was close by and able to respond when they did. Fire crews were already on the river doing patrol when the incident occurred. 

A police report has been filed since the incident occurred and Boise Police is working with Boise Fire on this investigation. 

Boise Fire officials said this happens a few times each summer, but they are noticing it more often this year. 

"There is some mutual respect that goes with that if you're going to jump off a bridge into the river,” said Boise Fire's Special Operations Division Chief Paul Roberts. “You have to do it in a safe manner to not impede floaters or disturb the floaters that are going down the river."

In the City of Boise, people are legally allowed to jump off a bridge as long as they land at least 50 feet away from floaters. 

Boise Fire does not have first responders staffed on the river 24/7, so it is not possible for crews to enforce and make sure every single person is following the rules. 

"The public needs to be aware that when they're rafting down the river or jumping from bridges, they do that at their own risk," Roberts said.

Because of how many responses fire crews had to make this year, Roberts said Boise Fire is looking at how to use their staff for future float seasons. He added when a rescue team is responding to an incident on the river a fire engine is not in service.

"We're looking at that to reduce that ripple effect," Roberts said. "None of that comes cheaply, of course. We are looking at how we staff going into the future."

Any change to the laws and regulations around jumping off bridges on the river would need to go through Boise City Council.

Council President Elaine Clegg said the City Council may have more discussions on regulations, but does not believe a ban on jumping is necessary. 

"Don't make a rule that punishes everyone, because a few people can't figure out how to follow the rules,” Clegg told KTVB. “Yeah, we have more people. That doesn't mean we should change how we've always treated our river." 

Alcala and Siegel said they also do not want the city to outright outlaw the recreational activity. However, they do urge people to be very careful and aware of their surroundings if they plan on jumping. 

"One day you're floating river having a great time and then before you know you're not walking," Alcala said. "I just don't want people to experience this situation."

"The river is big enough for all of us. We can all enjoy it. Let's just be safe about it. Let's not ruin it for everybody."  

People who jump off a bridge or tree and land on someone in the Boise River can be fined up to $100. 

A family friend of Alcala and Siegel set up a GoFundMe account to help the family cover medical bills and expenses while he is out of work. 

Police are also looking for more details into this incident. Anyone with information is asked to call dispatch at 208-377-6790 or Crime Stoppers: at 208-343-COPS (2677), www.343COPS.com, or leave a tip using the “P3 Tips” app for your mobile device. 

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