Bridge Day to rethink finger scan plan

Charleston Gazette file photo by Chris Dorst A parachutist lands after jumping from the New River George Bridge on last year’s Bridge Day.
Charleston Gazette file photo by Chris Dorst A parachutist lands after jumping from the New River George Bridge on last year’s Bridge Day.
Charleston Gazette file photo by Chris Dorst
A parachutist lands after jumping from the New River George Bridge on last year’s Bridge Day.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In response to recent public reaction, the Bridge Day Commission has decided that plans to finger scan jumpers, rappellers and vendors should be reconsidered.

The Bridge Day Security Committee is beginning an evaluation period, according to Sharon Cruikshank, chairwoman of the Bridge Day Commission.

Bridge Day draws more than 80,000 participants and spectators to the New River Gorge Bridge every third Saturday in October. It’s the biggest one-day festival in the state.

But the tourism draw appeared to be in jeopardy after the Bridge Day Commission announced it would implement finger scans for participants. Organizers said they wanted to check to make sure none of the results matched up with a terrorism watch list.

Several in the BASE jumping community said the finger scans would make them feel like criminals. They said they wouldn’t be going as a result, and they also said that BASE jumpers tend to stick together.

“We didn’t expect these concerns, especially since our goal was to eliminate the need to maintain sensitive personal information on paper files,” Cruikshank said in a news release. “Our intention is and has always been to make participants in this unique celebration feel secure. We are especially concerned with the misinformation about this proposed change and want to keep an open dialogue…

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