Brandi, a 7-year-old Beagle, didn’t even break any bones in the fall; she walked away from the incident with only a bruised abdomen.
“It’s a miracle, it’s definitely a miracle,” Brandi’s relieved owner, Alexis Lorenz, said.
Around 8 p.m. Friday, Lorenz and her Beagles, Brandi and Rosie, were taking their nightly stroll down the Burlington Riverfront Promenade on the New Jersey side of the bridge. When a group of people approached the dogs, Brandi spooked. She wriggled free from her harness and bolted, running north down the promenade.
“Brandi is afraid of everyone,” Lorenz said. “So when people came up to pet her, she escaped.”
Around 10 p.m., a video surveillance camera captured Brandi as she dodged cars and dashed on the Jersey side of the two-lane street. Seeing the terrified Beagle making her way through traffic, drivers swerved around Brandi and some even pulled over to try and help the runaway dog.
“Two carloads of young kids got out and tried to rescue the dog,” Bridge Commission Police Officer Rob Bittner, one of the officers on the scene when Brandi first jumped, told ABC News.
But the rescuers’ attempts were thwarted by Brandi, a rescue dog who had been abused in the past. Rather than allow herself to be caught by strangers, a frightened Brandi did the unthinkable: she jumped right off of the side of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.
“The poor dog went over the side of the bridge because it was afraid of children. It jumped right over the side of the bridge,” Bittner explained, remembering the incident.
Sergeant Ray Warmkessel, also on the scene, thought for sure that the Beagle had died in the fall. After all, the Burlington-Bristol Bridge is over 70-feet from the surface of the water. “Poor dog,” he remembers thinking. “She’s going to be dead.”
But when the officers made their way to the bank of the river beneath the bridge, they never expected what they would see: the Beagle was not only alive, but up and moving.
“Then we went down underneath the bridge, and here’s the dog walking along the beach,” Warmkessel said. “We were very surprised she survived.”
When the officers tried to capture poor Brandi, she took off into the darkness. Alexis Lorenz and her husband joined the officers and the New Jersey State Police Marine Unit in searching for their missing pooch.
It wasn’t until hours later, around 1 a.m., when Brandi was finally spotted again.
“It was wild,” Lorenz said. “She was wet, and she was walking. She went into the back of the car, and just stayed there. She was a scared little dog.”
Lorenz scooped Brandi up and finally took the bashful Beagle home where she belonged.
“I’m happy and elated,” Lorenz said. “If there were any more adjectives to describe what I was feeling, I wish I could express it. All I can think is that, wow, she is back and I thought I’d never see her again.”
When asked how Brandi could have survived not only her jump from the bridge, but the swim to shore, Lorenz was baffled.
“I’ve never even seen her swim. I don’t know how she did it,” Lorenz said.