On Saturday, Rhode Island State Police charged Christopher Aguiar, 30, of Greenfield Avenue, with trespassing after identifying him as one of the two men in the video — since taken down from the website — that showed them on top of the bridge’s north tower. The second man has reportedly been identified, but he has not yet been charged.
The investigation into the video, which was apparently recorded in October 2012, began in February, when the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) asked State Police to investigate.
The video starts with the two men — who described themselves as “two idiots” — shopping for flashlights in what they say is a Tiverton CVS store.
They then drive toward the bridge at night, pausing to take video footage of the bridge lights from Common Fence Boulevard in Portsmouth.
Arriving at the bridge they drive across, they point out the cable they intend to climb.
There is no filming of the actual climb — one later chastises the other for messing up that part of the adventure.
There is, however, footage of what appears to be the two climbers celebrating at the top. Strong wind can be heard as they stand next to the tower’s flashing red aircraft light.
Several times they aim the camera at car headlights passing far below on the bridge deck — one of the two contemplates peeing on the vehicles (it is not clear that he ever does). They also film toward Fall River and then toward what looks like the Newport Bridge while one says that that will be their next conquest.
Shortly after RITBA learned of the video, the footage vanished from YouTube and the bridge authority “referred the matter to the Rhode Island State Police,” Authority Chairman David Darlington said back in February.
Mr. Darlington declined further comment on the episode except to say that such behavior is both highly dangerous and illegal.
Bridge workers sometime scale the main cables to the top, always strapped in to hand-level cables on either side.
The bridge towers are 285 feet tall and rise about 140 feet above the bridge deck.
A number of years ago, a video was shot of a man bungee-jumping off the bridge. He said later that he did it in hopes of getting a movie stuntman job. Asked about that by a reporter, a Hollywood stunt company said it does not hire people on the basis of reckless acts.
Mr. Aguiar was released on $500 surety bail and is scheduled to appear in District Court in Newport on July 9.