Two photographers were arrested early Tuesday morning after climbing 250 feet to the top of a tower on the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The illegal escapade prompted police to close the bridge for 103 minutes and led to a shutdown of PATCO service across the span, said John Hanson, CEO of Delaware River Port Authority. The men, whose climb triggered alarms and security cameras, were arrested about 1:20 a.m., authorities said. They were brought down by seven port authority rescuers, aided by eight port authority police officers and 36 Philadelphia firefighters, Hanson said.
The two photographers, identified by Hanson as Martin J. Romero-Clark of New York City and Andrew Lillibridge of Toledo, Ohio, were charged with criminal mischief, interference with transportation, and causing or risking widespread damage. The first two charges are third-degree felonies, the latter a fourth-degree felony, Hanson said. The case will be handled by the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, he said.
The photographers "were very, very lucky, going up there on a wet night dressed in black, that no harm came to them," Hanson said. "They could have fallen, they could have been injured in the process of apprehending them, and they put the heroic men and women of our police department and the Philadelphia Fire Department at risk. We're going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. I am not amused, and I am very angry."
According to his LinkedIn page, Romero-Clark has run his own photo agency since 2013, specializing as a "fashion, portrait, street, wedding, and landscape photographer." Although his LinkedIn page includes nothing about climbing bridges, it does show that he is athletic: He was a member of the cross-country and track teams at Concordia University-Portland, from which he received a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance in 2010.
Lillibridge, 20, has a Facebook page that contains numerous images shot from perilously high vantage points, including one of himself with a camera atop a high-rise building in Detroit.
It was the first time anyone had climbed to the top of a tower on the bridge, Hanson said. Both men had photo equipment in their backpacks when they were arrested, he said.
The initial police call at 12:50 a.m. was for a jumper on the bridge, and Philadelphia Police marine units responded along with port authority police and firefighters, authorities said.