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Two women injured after being swept off Glass Window Bridge

A Spanish Wells woman was airlifted to New Providence to be treated for severe injuries late Sunday night, after she and another woman were swept off the Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera by a huge tidal wave earlier in the day, officials confirmed.

Two other women were also on the bridge at the time.

According to Member of Parliament for North Eleuthera Alvin Smith, officials had closed off the bridge due to warnings of rough weather when the accident happened around 5 p.m.

“A chain is usually used to close off the bridge when weather is bad, but anyone from Eleuthera knows when the weather is too bad not to visit the bridge,” said Smith.

He said the Spanish Wells woman received multiple fractures to one of her thighs and a piece of wood broke off in her other leg, when she was thrown between two rocks on the Caribbean side of the bridge.  At last report, the woman was in intensive care at Doctors Hospital and was expected to undergo surgery.

The other woman, from Lower Bogue, Eleuthera, held on to a railing, which prevented her from falling into the water.  Smith said she received minor injuries, and was visibly traumatized.

He said this is not the first time something like this has happened.

“This is the narrowest point of the island where waves can be over 200 feet.  I have seen it, not only during a hurricane,” said Smith.

“It was one of those tidal waves that swept these two ladies off.  Fortunately they were not swept into the water or even killed, because there have been a couple of tragic accidents where people were killed.  People driving their vehicles have also been swept off the bridge.  I had an uncle who was swept off the bridge back in the 1960s.  He was in a vehicle, but he survived.”

The bridge is one of Eleuthera’s more popular attractions.  Many times referred to as the narrowest place on earth, the bridge is located just north of Gregory Town on the northern end of Eleuthera.  From the bridge, one can see a contrast between the deep blue Atlantic Ocean and the calm turquoise waters of the Caribbean see, but Smith said when weather warnings are issued residents and tourists must adhere.

“During these times when the weather is bad it is not advisable to go on the bridge.  It gets worse as the tide gets high… It’s very dangerous,” said Smith.

“I have seen photos of seaweed that was brought up by these waves hanging from the electrical wires of the poles that run along the bridge.  That can give you an idea of the force that comes from the ocean.”

But he did admit that sometimes warnings are not sent out on time.

“Usually there are warnings, but sometimes warnings come a little bit too late.  We need to review how we go about dealing with the bridge.  I think there has to be a greater liaise with the meteorological department whenever we get warnings of tidal waves in the area,” he said.

Smith said the construction of a causeway has been considered.  “We have considered building a causeway, which would replace the bridge.  The causeway would be built on the shallow side [the Caribbean side].  No determination has been made as to when that will be done,” he said.  “The government got a proposal, but it is now inviting some other engineers to have another look and to get another opinion as to how to proceed.”

Smith said a causeway would move traffic away from the force of the ocean’s intensity.

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