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Man Arrested on Birthday For High-Wire Act Atop Portland Bridge

That’s one way to celebrate a 21st birthday. A Portland, Oregon, man marked the milestone by pulling a tightrope act atop that city’s Steel Bridge on Saturday morning, walking across the span on a narrow cable around 270 feet above the Willamette River — where he apparently proceeded to take a picture of the sunrise, law enforcement officials said.

“It was quite the act,” said Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Steve Dangler, who responded to the 6 a.m. spectacle as part of a river patrol unit. “We were worried he was either going to jump or fall … When he got to the east tower he just stood there. It appeared to me that he took a picture of the sunrise. Then he walked down.”

Benjamin Lovitz was arrested by Portland police and booked on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, and later released. Police wouldn’t provide a motive for the stunt, and attempts to reach Lovitz were not immediately successful. Dangler said that had Lovitz gone unnoticed and timed his trek over the lift bridge a few minutes later, the result could have been deadly — a tugboat pushing a barge was scheduled to pass underneath the lift bridge five minutes after he was arrested. “Had the bridge lifted, he would have fallen to his death, surely,” Dangler said.

Image: Police arrested suspect Benjamin Lovitz for tight rope walking across the Steel bridge in Portland, Oregon
Benjamin Lovitz, seen top left, was arrested for allegedly walking across cables atop the 270-foot-tall Steel Bridge in Portland, Oregon, on August 2. Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office

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— Phil Helsel