A Murfreesboro man was able to walk away Sunday morning after jumping his jet ski over the falls at Frank G. Clement Dam.
The rider, Ricky Hodge, 33, was bruised but refused a trip to the hospital after the late morning accident Sunday in which witnesses said he fell over 30 feet after launching his watercraft over the side of the Frank G. Clement Dam spillway located off South Chancery Street.
The victim told rescue workers he was riding his motorized personal watercraft on the river with friends around 11 a.m. Sunday and was aware the dam was there. However, he said he realized as he approached the spillway and drop off he was carrying too much speed to stop in time. At that point, the Murfreesboro man went over the 20-foot-high spillway, his speed launching him another 10 feet in the air, according to witnesses.
The air time was short-lived, witnesses say, as the watercraft soon dropped like a stone directly into the swirling waters below demolishing the craft and leaving its rider temporarily in shock from the hard impact. Some witnesses waded out to help the victim ashore. Members of the rescue squad were called, but the victim refused medical transport, noting he suffered what he felt were noncritical injuries like bumps and bruises.
The accident is the second at the dam in a month as an 11-year-old girl was swept over the dam and was injured April 22. Higher-than-normal rainfall this spring has caused the water to pour over the dam at a greater rate than usual.