Hazardous conditions forced state police to suspend their search Tuesday for the second of two brothers from Jamaica who went missing after jumping into the water from a bridge in Edgartown, Massachusetts, that is featured in the movie "Jaws."
Tavaris Bulgin, 26, and Tavaughn Bulgin, 21, were among four people who jumped from the so-called "Jaws Bridge" on Martha's Vineyard on Sunday night, according to a statement from the office of Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe. While two people made it out of the water, the brothers began to struggle in the current and were unable to make it to shore, the statement said.
The Coast Guard, state police and local police responded to the scene, and the body of Tavaris Bulgin was recovered around 6:30 a.m. Monday. Authorities returned to the scene Tuesday morning with a sidescan sonar device to resume their search for the body of the younger man, state police said. But that search was suspended in the afternoon when conditions became too dangerous for divers.
Two close friends of the Bulgin family spoke to NBC10 Boston Tuesday night and said the tragedy is hard to believe.
“It doesn’t seem real. It’s really a surreal thing to hear,” Marsha Green said, adding that the brothers went for a swim late Sunday night after working a shift. “No, they were not drinking, no they were not under an influence. They were just out to have a good time.”
"They were like the life of any group that they were in," Green added.
Green, who considers herself like a cousin, spoke to the brothers' parents on the phone in Jamaica earlier Tuesday and said they are absolutely devastated by what has happened.
"They had to actually be taken to the hospital in Jamaica when they found out," Green revealed of the parents reaction to the news about their sons. "They are in absolute shock.”
Family friend Omar George, who considers himself like an uncle to the boys, also spoke with NBC10 Boston on Tuesday, saying, ""You hear about this on TV, you see somebody else's pain and you're always thinking, 'oh this is going to happen to somebody else.'"
"You never dream it will happen to you," he added.
George says the brothers just called him for his birthday last week, and they were laughing and joking.
"They're always so jovial, so funny. Two most talented, educated, both of them are university educated," George shared.
The brothers, who both attended college in Jamaica where they grew up, came to Martha's Vineyard for the summer and were renting a house while they worked at a local restaurant -- partly to help their father's ministry back home.
“They were very, very involved in their father’s ministry,” Green noted. “They would always send money down to help.”
Green says the brothers were working at Nomans restaurant in Oak Bluffs. The restaurant announced on Facebook that it was temporarily closed both Monday and Tuesday, apologizing for the inconvenience. They plan to reopen Wednesday, according to the social media post.
Family and friends are left with unbearable grief as search crews are left to scour the Atlantic side of the bridge, having already cleared the inland side in their search for Tavaughn Bulgin.
"It's weird to even say thankfully, but thankfully they found Tavaris, they at least have closure for one," Green said. "But to know that Tavaughn is still missing, it doesn't feel right not knowing where exactly he is."
It wasn't immediately clear if state police would be able to resume their search Wednesday, with rain expected in the region. State police said they would assess weather conditions on a "day-by-day basis" to determine when conditions are safe for divers to resume their search.
The bridge that links the towns of Oak Bluffs and Edgartown is officially the American Legion Memorial Bridge, but much of the 1975 movie "Jaws" was filmed on the resort island. It's common to see people jumping from the bridge even though there are signs up saying that such activity is prohibited.
The district attorney's office said their investigation is ongoing. No foul play is suspected.
The Associated Press contributed to this report