Eleuthera's famous Glass Window Bridge

Call to Lower Bogue...

At about this time constable 1934 Camalo McCoy, a seven-year veteran of the police force, got a call at his home in Lower Bogue six miles north of the bridge. Someone had been washed over in a car, he was told. With two fellow officers, McCoy arrived at the north end of Glass Window twenty minutes later. Whoever had been washed over was nowhere to be found, but the car was belly-up in the Bight on the west side of the bridge. Among those waiting to get across was a tourist who filmed the scene with a video camera; another was the shoeless Sam Pedican.

A year after Sam Pedican died in a rage at Glass Window bridge, I sat in Constable McCoy's living room at Lower Bogue listening as he remembered that day. McCoy was a robust, muscular man of 27, with close-cropped hair and a broad smiling face that exposed a gap between his front bone-white teeth. He was seated on the sofa in his Sunday clothes. He'd had time only to eat lunch and take off his tie after returning from church. His wife Portia sat with us. From another room came the cackling admonitions of a televangelist.

Painting of Glass Window Bridge by Winslow HomerThe force of these rogue waves is tremendous. When Winslow Homer painted Glass Window in the nineteenth century, a rock ledge topped the structure, creating the impression of a natural window. It has long since been destroyed. The succession of highway bridges that replaced the ledge have fared no better. A rage on Halloween day 1991 knocked the present bridge 11 feet closer to the Bight of Eleuthera. Boulders the size of Airsteam trailers heaved up by rages litter the cliff tops near Glass Window, stark testimony to the power of rages.

“On arrival at the scene,” McCoy explained in police talk, “I could see the waves two, three miles away. I, along with the two officers, we went over to the south side of the bridge because that's where the vehicle had gone over, and while on the south side, we met Sam Pedican who wanted to come back over with us. So on the return, coming over, we waited for the waves because normally you're supposed to wait five minutes to let the waves come over in sequence. Wait for the seventh wave to come and then run.”

“So we waited to come back across -- the two officers, we all waited together -- and I waited for Mr. Pedican. He was moving slowly, looking down at his feet. When the time came to go I held my hand out to him and said, 'Sam, the waves is coming, we got to run.' But Mr. Pedican kept looking down at his feet. Then he looked up and said something I didn't hear.”

“So there was a lag in time. We made about ten, eleven strides, and we were smack dab in the middle of the bridge when the wave come and hit us full force. It was the first wave of the sequence, which is normally the biggest one.”

The Nassau Guardian had reported that the wave that hit Pedican and McCoy was 70 feet high. Was that possible?

“I believe it was higher than that, maybe a hundred feet. We got tossed up in the air and then dropped down on the slope, on the stones. I was holding on to the stones after the first wave, and before the second wave hit I saw Mr. Pedican down below me. I reached out to get his hand, and I called him -- he was on a rock below me -- and I shouted his name, but he didn't answer me. He must have been unconscious. I also looked up and saw the other two officers who was shouting down at me trying to tell me that another wave was coming. And when I was holding on to the rocks I called on the Lord and asked Him to help me, but this next wave come over and pulled me off that rock” -- he showed me his scarred hands where the force of the blow had ripped him from his hold, tearing flesh from his palms and fingers -- “and then I got knocked down straight down to the bottom.”

“And as I came down I could feel the waves knocking me back and forth between the rocks, the stones hitting my head all that time. I must have been unconscious for, oh, probably five seconds, something like that. After a while, I came to the surface and started swimming away from the current around the point on the north side and into the shore, to get away from the waves. From there I waded into the shore. The waves had tore my jacket off, and some of my pants. The two officers climbed down from the road and helped me get up the rocks. I never saw Sam Pedican again.”

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Glass Window Bridge - Eleuthera