The 17-year-old boy who survived a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge on Thursday is facing possible jail time and a huge fine for the stunt.
The California Highway Patrol said Friday that it is recommending the boy be charged with misdemeanor trespassing, which is punishable by up to a year in county jail and a fine as high as $10,000.
Activities that earn a trespassing charge include “climbing on any railing, cable, suspender rope, tower or superstructure not intended for public use,” the CHP said Friday.
The teen has not been identified, but friends on Twitter and Facebook say he goes by “Otter” and is a junior at Windsor High School in Sonoma County.
Authorities say the boy was not trying to commit suicide when he plunged more than 200 feet off the bridge’s eastern sidewalk near the south tower around 11 a.m. The boy said he “did it for kicks,” a surfer who helped him to shore said Friday.
Still, the CHP said it wants the boy to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
In what is viewed by some as a miracle, the boy avoided serious injury. He made the jump while on a school field trip with some 45 students and swam to shore and climbed out of the cold water.
On social media websites, some classmates initially said the teen leaped as a “thrill.” Later, others denied it was done on a dare.
Windsor Unified School District Superintendent Bill McDermott said he didn’t think the teen was trying to commit suicide, but jumped after other students urged him to do it. Students saw the teen go over the railing.
The surfer who helped the boy, 55-year-old Frederic Lecouturier of San Rafael, said Friday he was beneath the eastern side of the bridge when he saw the teen’s body fall into the ocean about 25 yards away.
The teen fell feet first and his knees were slightly buckled when he hit the water, Lecouturier said.
The teen surfaced quickly and began swimming, and a strong south wind might have slowed his fall and enabled him to survive, Lecouturier said.
Lecouturier said he removed the teen’s shoes to increase his buoyancy.
“He said he was OK,” Lecouturier said. “He said he did it for kicks. I was angry and I went off on him. I said, 'God gave you life and you're playing with it like it's nothing.' He didn't say anything.”
Lecouturier got the boy onto his 8 foot, 6 inch surfboard and they both paddled toward Fort Point where emergency responders were already waiting.
The teen was taken to San Francisco General Hospital.
“He's muscular, fit and light,” Lecouturier said. “A 200-pound boy would have drowned.”
“He's a nice kid but all these kids live in virtual reality. They see people jumping from buildings and bridges and surviving. What was this kid thinking?” said Lecouturier, who is the father of two teens.
Staff and wire reports contributed to this article.