Erin Langworthy survives Victoria Falls bungee jump accident

Sara Drawwater
10 January 2012
On the 31st of December 2011, Erin Langworthy’s survived after her bungee cord snapped. Here’s our reaction, some other media coverage, including a video and how the Zambian Tourism Minister did the…

On the 31st of December 2011, Erin Langworthy’s survived after her bungee cord snapped. Here’s our reaction, some other media coverage, including a video and how the Zambian Tourism Minister did the very same bungee jump to reassure visitors.

Update: 11/01/12Since we posted this, it’s come to light that on Monday the 9th of January 2012, Given Lubinda, Zambia’s Tourism Minister took a leap of faith and did the same bungee jump! He did this to reassure people that Erin’s accident was a one off and that it should not be seen as a reflection of poor safety standards. What an excellent response! Hat’s off.

Our reactionIt’s not a great advert for safety levels on high octane activities in Livingstone, Zambia. However, accidents do happen — after all this is a bungee jump and can be defined as an extreme sport. Such activities are marketed specifically to self confessed adrenaline junkies. Some people just wouldn’t take the risk.

A media frenzy has erupted with some unfair content. Articles referenced ‘freezing cold water’ and ‘crocodile infested water’. Hmmm… Freezing cold water in Africa? Crocodile infested water in the gorge? Why would white water rafting be allowed here if it was crocodile infested? Let’s not forget that in 17 years, Victoria Falls Bungee have enabled 150,000 people to safely jump from the bridge — this is (thankfully) the first incident of its kind. This is significantly lower odds than having a car accident.

What we do know is that this will be a wake up call. It’s great to see that Victoria Falls Bungee have already taken a series of actions to bring in extra safety measures to help ensure something like this does not happen again. We’re grateful that Erin survived to tell the tale.

The statement from Safari Par Excellence made on the 9th of January 2012, said:“Safari Par Excellence, Zambia, Limited is one of the numerous booking agents for this activity and has no involvement with the operations of the activities conducted by Victoria Falls Bungee. It is in this regard that we are not in a position to make any statements regarding the incident.”

Safari Par Excellence suggest that Victoria Falls Bungee be contacted for more information: They also extended their best best wishes and speedy recovery to Erin Langworthy.

Victoria Falls Bungee originally made a statement on the 2nd of January 2012:In it they stated, “The cause of the incident is being thoroughly investigated, a process we expect to take at least 24 hours. During this period the Bridge Swing, Bridge Slide and Bridge Tour shall continue operating as normal. We expect to recommence Bungee Jumping operations on the 2nd January 2012.”

On the 6th of January 2012, Victoria Falls Bungee released another statement:“It goes without saying that we deeply regret the incident, which is the first such incident in 17 years of operations during which time more than 150,000 people have safely jumped from the bridge.

The exact reason for the bungee cord failure is as yet unknown. We have engaged the necessary safety specialists who will be investigating the cause in the coming week.

We are treating this incident with the upmost seriousness and our aim now is to learn what we can from this and apply that knowledge so as to ensure that there is no reoccurrence.”

According to the statement, to help establish what caused the bungee cord to snap, experts in South Africa are expected to be on site shortly. In addition, the broken cord has been carefully stored and will be sent to South Africa for forensic testing. The statement also says a series of preliminary safety measures have already taken place. These include removal of all bungee cords made from the same batch of rubber as the failed cord; use of an entirely new set of bungee cords that have been extensively load tested and inspected; and the inspection of the entire bungee system for safety checking.

Further to this, Victoria Falls Bungee say that in addition to their normal checks and procedures they have instigated additional daily and intermittent checks on the bungee cords. They are fully satisfied that these checks and procedures are sufficient to ensure their clients safety. Bungee jumping has now recommenced.

What’s more, the Victoria Falls Bungee crew are “conducting test jumps before the commencement of daily operations and throughout the day” and “a qualified river guide with first aid certification and the necessary safety and recovery equipment has been positioned in the gorge below the bridge.”

Here are just three of the news stories:

Here’s a video of what happened. Erin survived and though it may be distressing, it’s not very graphic.

And here’s the full story of Given Lubinda’s bungee jump in the MailOnline.

Image credit:

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