Well of course I had to get around to the case of Australian backpacker Erin Langworth and the snapped bungy rope at Victoria Falls eventually… but I needed to do a little research first.
However, relatively speaking there have not been that many bungy accidents. In fact, they say that it is about as dangerous as travelling a hundred miles in a car. Nearly all the accidents that have occured have not been because of a fault in the bungee cords, but because of errors in attaching the cord securely to the jump platform or the jumper. Since it’s inception as a sport in 1979, and until the end of 2009, less than a hundred people had died from bungy jumping. The chances of your having an accident are 1:500,000 ie: you are very unlucky if your number is 500,001!
When you think about it, it is obvious that bungy jumping has a large element of danger, after all you are jumping from a lethal height attached to nothing but a large rubber band!
However, what happened on New Year’s Eve at Vic Falls was exceptionally unlucky as the figures show.
You have to remember that even with the most stringent safety precautions, it is not possible to eliminate entirely the risk of injury or even death.
This was, in fact, Zimbabwe’s first accident in its 17 years of operations. The company there has a rigorous adherence to safety standards and have never had an accident before. Acting very responsibly to this accident they closed the bungy jumping attraction and have called in a South African firm, Rope Workz, to carry out a safety audit of the equipment used for bungee jumping on the bridge. The other bridge activities including the bridge wing, bridge slide and bridge tours will continue as normal and the bungy jump is expected to re-open on Friday.
Broken Bungy Jumping cord at Victoria Falls
When you bungy jump – you sign a release form and waiver accepting and agreeing to the possibility of an accident… even the possibility of death. Now that’s a wake up call if ever there was one. I know because I’ve been there and it certainly makes you think twice! If there is a possibility that something might go wrong – and you don’t like the odds… well then, DON’T DO IT.
Erin Langworth, to her credit, has not cried wolf since falling. She signed the form – and obviously understood that it’s one of the occupational hazards of sport that something might go wrong. If you consider yourself responsible enough to do a potentially dangerous sport, then you have to act responsibly in the event of a disaster and you live to tell the tale. You can’t point a finger and say “shame on you” to a company with a previously faultless record. As it is, she hasn’t and is exceptionally grateful to be alive. She sustained a broken collar bone and relatively minor cuts and bruises, though it looks much worse than that. And that’s after falling 111 ft (some say 79) into the water. Incredible.
“I had my hands up and my hands broke the surface tension of the water. I hit the water and I blacked out for a couple of seconds I think but the water was so cold that it snapped me out of it.” With bound ankles she swam with the current. “I landed with my legs tied and then had to swim to the Zimbabwe side (of the river) through the rapids,” Erin told Australia’s Channel 9 News. “It was quite scary because a couple of times the rope actually got caught on some rocks or debris. I actually had to swim down and yank the bungee cord out of whatever it was caught on to make it to the surface.”
A wise and brave young lass. “No one told me there were crocodiles in it until afterwards!”
My nephew jumped an hour before Erin. It’s the luck of the draw isn’t it! Not at all put off, Pip’s planning his next jump in Australia…