Terrence Naphys said he and his family were heading to Cape May on August 1 for a day of shopping and eating when they nearly ended up plunging 65 feet off the Middle Thorofare Bridge.
When the bridge started to open, driver Terrance Naphys says he barely had time to think, so he gunned the engine and cleared the opening.
"An employee for the Cape May County Bridge Commission stated that a large vessel was approaching the bridge and they had no contact with that vessel due to their radio being down", police said. Inside the vehicle also were his wife, his daughter and a daughter's friend.
Terence, his wife Jacqueline, their 16-year-old daughter Kaity, and her friend were in the auto, terrified at what could happen. "We could have all landed in the water".
"He accelerated, and of course then we landed with a big impact on the concrete on the side", the man's wife, Jackie Naphys, told CBS Philadelphia in an interview this week.
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They landed on the other side and drove away safely, but Naphys told WCAU his RAV4 had sustained about $10,000 in damages, including a bent suspension. The Cape May County Bridge Commission is now investigating the incident.
Cape May County officials say the bridge, which was first built in 1940 and has no safety mechanisms in place, needs some $200 million in repairs.
Her husband added: "I will never ever drive that bridge or probably any drawbridge again".
The operator of New Jersey's Thorofare Bridge was blinded by sunlight and assumed the holidaying family's vehicle had made it across as he initiated the lifting system.
While Naphys is proud of his white-knuckle heroics, he says he's officially retired from jumping the Middle Thorofare Bridge.