‘Fun’ jump turns tragic

The bridge spans Coyote Creek on East Dunne Avenue, at the south

MORGAN HILL
– A family outing turned tragic Sunday afternoon when a
22-year-old San Jose man died after attempting to do something he
had done when he was younger: jump or dive off the Dunne Bridge
over Coyote Creek east of Anderson Reservoir.
MORGAN HILL – A family outing turned tragic Sunday afternoon when a 22-year-old San Jose man died after attempting to do something he had done when he was younger: jump or dive off the Dunne Bridge over Coyote Creek east of Anderson Reservoir.

Jaime Castanon was with family and friends when he decided to climb a 10-foot fence to get to the bridge and jump, said Public Information Officer Terrance Helm of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

“There appeared to be no foul play,” Helm said Monday. “According to family and friends, this was something he had done before and he wanted to do it again, but he miscalculated in some way. Something had changed from when he was a kid.”

Castanon apparently knocked himself unconscious, hitting his head on the bottom or on something else, and when he didn’t surface after the jump, witnesses called 911. His body was pulled out of the water about 90 minutes later, shortly before 7 p.m., by Sheriff’s Department dive team members.

The cause of death was drowning, the Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office reported Monday after an autopsy was completed.

Helm said witnesses said alcohol or drugs were not involved in the tragedy.

“The water level could have been lower. We just don’t know exactly what went wrong,” Helm said. “I understand this was a popular spot for jumping off in the past, but I would say don’t try it.

“I can see if your dad or your uncles tell you ‘I jumped off that when I was your age’ that you might think it’s safe to do so. But something has changed, and it is not safe now.”

California Department of Forestry Fire Engineer Gilbert Rodriguez was on one of the engines that responded to the call.

“Nobody really knows what knocked him out,” he said. “But it seems possible that he was knocked out as he hit the water.”

The distance between the bridge and the surface of the water was “at least 75 feet,” Rodriguez said, and the depth of the water was estimated to be approximately 25 feet.

“The witnesses said he seemed to enter the water leaning forward,” he said. “His feet went in straight, they said, but his torso was leaning forward.”

Rodriguez said Castanon was there with a girlfriend, a brother and a sister, who were on the bridge with him when he climbed the fence and jumped.

“It was just a bad accident,” he said. “Bad judgment. And very sad.”

“You just don’t do it,” Rodriguez said about the practice of jumping from bridges. “You don’t know what’s under the water, you don’t know how deep it is. People need to use their common sense. It’s not safe.”

The original bridge was damaged by the 6.9 (on the Richter scale) Loma Prieta Earthquake that occurred on Oct. 17, 1989. The current bridge is a new one.

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