GoFundMe Created As Details Emerge About the Two Brothers Who Jumped Off the ‘Jaws Bridge’ in Martha’s Vineyard

The identities of two males who jumped off the “Jaws” bridge in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, have been released, despite authorities only being able to recover one of their bodies. Sources say the two were relatives who traveled to the vacation destination during the summer for seasonal jobs.

Tavaris and Tavaughn Bulgin are the names of the two men who went missing on Sunday, Aug. 14, after leaping from the American Legion Memorial Bridge on Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach Road, which connects Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. The two brothers from Palmers Cross in Clarendon, Jamaica, came to the Vineyard to work the bustling months — a high-traffic season that usually runs from June to August.

The West Indians were working in a restaurant and stayed in Oak Bluffs in a rented residence.

According to MassLive.com, two other individuals made the jump from the bridge featured in the ”Jaws” movie with the Bulgins but emerged unscathed. 

On Monday, Aug. 15, the Cape, and Island district attorney said the body of Tavaris, 26, was found, but a search for his brother Tavaughn was temporarily stopped on Tuesday, Aug. 16 because of dangerous weather conditions. The search was resumed on Wednesday, Aug.17, but again was halted because of the weather, Massachusetts State Police confirmed.

The young men’s family hosted a vigil in Jamaica for the Bulgin brothers. The men’s father, Reverend Keith Bulgin, their mother Jacqueline, other members of the clergy, and others from the community were there praying for their souls.

Bishop Rhoan Parkins, the official spokesperson for the family from the Scotts Pass New Testament Church of God, said their relatives are experiencing great sorrow with the news of their loss.

“It was deep gut bawling when the news came that the body had been found. It was raw agony,” he said according to The Jamaican Gleaner.

“[The family is] at home going through a stressful time, but getting comfort and support from the community,” he later said.

He added the men had two sisters (Tavanny and Tavania), one in high school and one currently in a high-risk pregnancy, stating, “It’s really a hit that the community has taken. I would just want to say to the wider public, spare a moment for the Bulgin family. The boys are the second and the third child. The eldest child, she is pregnant and not doing pretty well. I want Jamaica to stop for a while and say a prayer for these persons.”

The Bishop said, “They (brothers) both grew up in our surroundings and as boys in the church, very respectful, pretty well mannered. They made their parents proud. They never brought any reproach or any disrepute on the family. They are well-loved, they are very sociable, very respectful, and progressive.”

Only a year ago, Tavaris had graduated from the University of Technology and was serving as a school teacher. His little brother, Tavaughn, was finishing his studies at The University of the West Indies, Mona. Both studied business administration and enjoyed music and playing soccer.

The summers in the Vineyard were a way for them to have fun while making some money.

According to officials, the brothers joined another pair for a late-night swim. The group disregarded signs on the bridge discouraging people from jumping from the bridge that separates the sea from Sengekontacket Pond and took their chances on plunging into the water.

The Edgartown police were first alerted after the young men didn’t surface from the jump around 11:20 p.m., according to Boston.com. In turn, the local authorities reached out to the MSP. 

MSP’s marine and air units searched until 3:30 a.m. and resumed the next morning. During the second search, the agency located Tavaris’s body around 6:30 a.m. in the pond.

The Coast Guard has also been called in to assist in the search. Ships and helicopters have been deployed to find the man.

Tavaughn has not been located as of publishing.

On Tuesday, MSP tweeted, “We are using sidescan sonar to detect objects or anomalies in water column or on ocean floor. If sonar detects something we will dive on it.”

On Wednesday, MSP spokesperson Dave Procopio said, “Weather conditions preclude dive operations today, but a Trooper assigned to the State Police-Oak Bluffs Barracks is searching the shoreline by ATV and our Air Wing will conduct an aerial search if weather allows.”

The currents in the water below the bridge are known to be hazardous, and over the last few days, with a Nor’eastern storm brewing over the Atlantic Ocean the area has been particularly rough.

“There is a pretty good current, depending on when you’re jumping in,” Oak Bluffs Fire Chief Nelson Wirtz said. “The water does run through there very, very fast. For someone who’s a good swimmer, it’s OK. I do not know how well these people swam. Certainly, if you’re not a strong swimmer, you’re going to have trouble. … You can easily get overwhelmed.”

Tavaughn Bulgin’s body was found by a shell fisherman at the edge of Sengekontacket Pond at about 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, Massachusetts State Police reports.

A GoFundMe was set up for the young men by the family, asking for financial support with expenses associated with laying them to rest.

“The costs of travel, transport, funeral, and memorial services add up quickly, and our goal is to ease the burden on the family by allowing them the space and time to grieve without worrying about access to sufficient funds to lay their sons to rest properly,” it read.

The copy continued to lift their love for God and “enthusiasm for life,” adding the two left “an unforgettable mark on the community of Martha’s Vineyard, their hometown of Clarendon, and the entire country of Jamaica.”

After being public for two days, with a target goal of $50,000, the fundraiser has amassed almost $200,000. The average donation ranged between $50 to $100. A few donations were for $1000. One generous donor gave a whopping $25,000, a testament to just how great an impact the brothers made during their short lives.

Thoughts of bereavement from loved ones have started to pour in, with one person taking to Facebook to express his “unspeakable grief.” 

GoFundMe Created As Details Emerge About the Two Brothers Who Jumped Off the 'Jaws Bridge' in Martha?s Vineyard
Omar George’s Facebook post regarding the Bulgin brothers.

Omar George, who called himself a family friend and said he was the best man at the young men’s parents’ wedding, wrote, “These two boys are like my blood sons. I loved them so much. I know them from birth. They are good, godly, smart, jovial, crazy, full of life, and talented individuals.”

“They usually stopped in at my home to spend a few days before going off to their Summer Employment Program in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” he continued. “On their way back, they would come in spend a few days before returning home to Jamaica.”

According to George, the boys beamed when they talked about preparing food for celebrities like Barack Obama and Simon Cowell. He said they even cheffed it up for him, saying, “They cooked the nicest food for me.”

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