Rope swing death a sobering reminder

It’s all about the adrenaline rush, the heart-pounding thrill of doing something a hair’s breadth away from serious injury or death.

Oh, and these days it’s also about going viral on YouTube.

But if you don’t know what you’re doing, the hair’s breadth can be erased quickly.

A 22-year-old man from West Jordan, Utah died Sunday apparently while trying to imitate what he saw in a viral YouTube video titled, “World’s largest rope swing.” The man, Kyle Stocking, and five of his friends tried to make a rope swing around Corona Arch near Moab, just like the people in the video. Only Stocking and friends miscalculated the length of the rope. (Read a news story about it here.)

Spring break is here, and that means lots of young people are out looking for adventure. This horribly tragic accident is a reminder that extreme sports are deadly serious.

As this year-old CBS News report indicated, even trained and experienced extreme athletes are susceptible. More than a year ago, BASE-jumper Jeb Corliss was seriously hurt on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Corliss is famous for having jumped off the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle and Malaysia’s Twin Towers.

The day before his accident, ice climber John Roberts died from a 60-foot fall.

Experts say these stunts are not nearly as dangerous as they look because of the precautions taken by trained athletes. But they still are dangerous.

They’re doubly so when done by people who aren’t as well trained.

I’ll admit to not understanding the urge that makes people engage in these sports, or even bungee jump from safe distances at amusement parks, for that matter. When I watch the rope swing video, a link to which I’ve included below, my palms sweat.

But I don’t want to prohibit anyone else from engaging in such activity.

I just wonder whether there is a certain level of responsibility involved with making viral videos that glamorize such things at an easily accessible public spot. At the least, they should indicate that people shouldn’t try to replicate the feat on their own, or perhaps link to a site that offers a tutorial on how to do it safely.

The rope swing took place on land owned by the state as a school trust land. For liability purposes, the state already had made the swing off limits to commercial companies that might charge to help people do it. It would seem, however, that letting private people swing presents a greater risk than granting permits to bonded companies that can demonstrate they understand the safety needs involved.

Not every young thrill seeker is going to try to duplicate the rope swing video. Spring break lends itself to plenty of other activity that is dangerous in its own way.

But swinging on the arch did lead to a death, and that should be enough to make everyone, from spring breakers to the state, think seriously about precautions.

Click below to watch:
World’s Largest Rope Swing

Categories: Utah issues

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

2 comments

  1. Jedediah

    Hi Jay,

    I too watched the viral video entitled “world’s largest rope swing.” The video, however, did contain a link to a “behind the scenes” video explaining how the stunt was rigged and the precautions that are taken, warning potential copy cats.

    I do not think that the makers of the viral video have any responsibility for the carelessness of these young individuals, as tradgic as it may be, especially since the dangers were explicitly stated in the behind the scenes video.

    after all, the measurement of the rope should be the most basic of all precautions…

    Best,

    Jedediah

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