National News

Apr 24, 2013 3:42 PM by NBC News

4-year-old girl lowered onto bridge piling for closer look at flood waters

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The father of a young child who wound up on the piling of the downtown Grand Rapids pedestrian Blue Bridge, on the other side of the railing, around noon Monday said she was never in any danger.

The child is 4 years old. The father said he didn't believe his daughter was ever in any danger.

"I'm not going to put my daughter in any harm," said Hans Jansma, the little girl's father. "That's crazy."

The photojournalist who captured the incident saw the girl's Jansma and another adult standing on the bridge above the child. Jansma was holding the other end of the rope wrapped around the girl's waist. Jansma referred to that rope Tuesday as a "safety rope."

Jansma said his little girl wanted to go out on the piling. When asked what he was thinking:

"My daughter and I have a fun relationship and we were having an adventure Monday," said Jansma. "And my daughter was never in any danger. I've never put my daughter in danger. And I had her tied with a safety rope on her. She found that hole and she wanted to crawl through it because that bridge is riddled with holes a 4-year-old child can easily slip through. And I told her that she could not go out there but if we tied a safety rope on her and if I kept her with no slack, that she could go out there and take a look at the high river that probably won't be that high again until she's an adult."

Workers on another bridge yelled at the child's supervisors to get her off the piling on Monday. She made it safely back up to the bridge's surface within minutes.

Jansma said he believes his little girl was safe on the about two-foot cement pylon.

"I put a safety rope on her and because I felt comfortable with the ability of the rope to support the weight of my daughter. I feel comfortable supporting my own weight with that rope," said Jansma. "And to people who wouldn't consider doing that to their children, that's fine then don't do that to your kids."

Jansma called the rope a "safety rope" and described it as a 3/8-inch piece of rope that he says could easily hold his daughter's 35 pounds -- or even, he claimed, his own weight.

"It was a rope," he described Monday. "It wasn't twine. It wasn't fishing line. It was a rope."

He said he was upset initially when he saw all the comments about him and his family online.

"I don't want people to think I'm a bad dad," said Jansma. "I guess that's never going to happen again. I suppose with all the nasty disgusting comments on the Internet, I suppose we should probably never hike again or anything else that puts her in danger -- walking down busy streets. I perhaps should get her a helmet."

Read more: http://bit.ly/YQmnFo

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