Burlington Skyway video daredevil charged with trespassing


Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
The Beach Strip
Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Spectator
By Joel OpHardt
Friday August 19th

The 21-year-old man who posted a YouTube video showing him walking along the top of the Burlington Skyway has been charged by police.

Conor Friday was charged with trespassing and being a pedestrian on a highway — both fines.

"It's completely irresponsible, and dangerous and illegal," said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt Thursday. "One missed step, one gust of wind and they are going to be off that bridge. They'll come plummeting down. … they can easily cause a fatality on the roadway itself."

Schmidt said police received a call at about 6 a.m. on Aug. 2 for a male scaling the metal arch on top of the Burlington Skyway which connects Burlington and Hamilton where the harbour and Lake Ontario meet. Friday was located by police as he descended from the top of the bridge and was making his way to Eastport Drive.

He was arrested and charged on scene.

"There could be some criminal charges, but as far as I understand the investigation is complete," said Schmidt.

A City of Hamilton waste collector, Rob Jones, said he was on his way to a routine morning stop at Hamilton Beach next to the Skyway before his shift started at 7 a.m. when he saw police cars swarm the area.

"They were flipping out going after someone … they were swarming," said Jones, 33, who counted at least six police cars and eight officers in the area.

Not thinking much of it, he continued his drive to the Breezeway Trail where he voluntarily picks up litter near the pier before work. As he arrived in a parking spot near the lift bridge, he saw a young man get out of a silver Honda Civic, sprint over to a litter can, drop something in, and take off.

Moments later, Jones said, coffee in hand and enjoying a breathtaking Lake Ontario sunrise, he saw a young man in a white T-shirt running full-steam in his direction with an officer — far behind — giving chase, and yelling "Hey stop!"

"I put my coffee down, my sunglasses down, and I waited," said Jones. He turned his back and, when the suspect got near enough, Jones bear hugged him as they tumbled to the ground.

"We didn't exchange punches or anything, it was just wrestling while he was trying to get away," said Jones. When the police officer giving chase arrived, he had his Taser drawn. A second police officer soon arrived.

Jones said one of the officers said "What's your deal man?" to the suspect.

In the meantime, Jones had tiptoed away from the suspect with his hands up and took a video of the early-morning arrest.

"They shook my hand, took down my information, and thanked me," said Jones.

Under current law, a trespass offence conviction can result in a fine of up to $2,000. But thanks to updated regulations from the Niagara Parks Act, stunting at Niagara Falls can now result in a fine of up to $10,000.

The video, posted on Monday by Friday, shows him exiting a vehicle and walking up the metal arch of the Burlington Skyway, which is 63 metres at its highest point.

At one point Friday reverses the camera, revealing his dark hair, sunglasses, fabric over his lower face and a camera strapped to his chest.

Schmidt reminds the public that pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed on any of the provincial highways, including the QEW and Burlington Skyway.

"We certainly don't want to see copycat-type activities," said Schmidt. "Anyone trying to do similar activities will be stopped and will be arrested and will be charged."

Schmidt said OPP will be speaking with the bridge authority and the ministry to enhance monitoring of the bridge and other similar locations.

Joel OpHardt is a reporter with the Hamilton Spectator. Email: jophardt@thespec.com.

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