Today in thrillseeking: the Zambezi bungee jumper

This is a photo of my family on the Victoria Falls Bridge in December 1999. Barely seen in the gorge 420 feet below is the Zambezi River. The Daughter is managing to smile, despite her parents having refused to let her go whitewater rafting on the river. When she asked why she couldn’t go, we said, well — because of the Class 5 rapids and the crocodiles and the rocks and the rafts flipping and the sheer terror of it, plus sunburn and bee stings.

None of that swayed her. The Husband and I had both done it, and later made the mistake of describing it as “fun” and “a once-in-a lifetime-experience” and “near death,” which only stoked her desire to run the rapids herself. So I think I then said something about the bungee jumpers who were plunging toward the river from the bridge where we were standing, and how you never knew — one of them could hit her. Feel free to imagine the acid in her voice when she said, “What-ever, Mom.” And how her brothers then asked if they could sign up to bungee jump.

Here is a video of Australian tourist Erin Langworthy bungee jumping off that same bridge this week.

See, kids: Mother knows best.

But Langworthy’s miracle escape isn’t the only shocking element of this story.

Patti sends the Grammar Geeks’ Unit a link to the Daily Mail’s breathless coverage of the mishap.

“Miracle escape for bungee jumper after chord snaps, plunging her into crocodile-infested waters.”

Patti fumes: “I guess it’s actually for the Spelling Geeks’ Tactical Squad, but all I can say is ‘aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh’!”

Bungee jumping while on an adventure holiday is like a right of passage for many young travellers.

But some may think twice after Australian backpacker Erin Langworthy, 22, plunged into the Zambezi River when her chord snapped during a jump at Victoria Falls, in Zambia.

Patti demands to know: “Was it major or minor? Flat key or sharp key? We need to know which one to avoid.”

How about forcing the Daily Mail’s subeditors to face the same ordeal as the bungee jumper if they let such typos through?

Miraculously, the thrill-seeker from Perth survived the plunge into crocodile-infested waters and lived to tell how she managed to battle through the rapids and swim to the Zimbabwean side of the river with her feet still tied together.

Maybe the lesson is: if you’re going to throw yourself off a bridge with only a bunch of rubber bands to keep you from hitting bottom at terminal velocity, at least be sure to do it over a body of water.

9 responses to “Today in thrillseeking: the Zambezi bungee jumper

  1. Well, it was a broken chord, of course, with the notes played sequentially from lowest to highest. Although in this case, probably from top to bottom. Very fast.

    So Meg, yet another event that would not be out of place in the next Evan Delaney book. I especially like the “feet still tied together” touch.

  2. I saw this and absolutely could not believe this woman survived. And the next person stubs their toe and POOF! dead.

    Yes, when will kids learn that moms do know best? Kate, aren’t you glad mom was watching out for you?

  3. Meg, I’ll play this over and over in my head if I EVER have the urge to bungee jump. Parasailing OK. Paragliding OK. Decided against skydiving when a UC Davis team lost a few students after a chute failed to open. Nowadays not falling asleep before 10 pm seems like a thrill!

  4. Excellent point, Susan. I’m still deeply concerned about the key, though. It’s a matter of public safety.

  5. A “right of passage” is right, right? She has every right to do this, Mom. I mean, let’s not make a rite out of this.

  6. One very lucky (& quite talented in the saving-yourself-field) girl. Scared the crap out of me when I saw that on our news a few days ago.
    And Deej, you’re right… whose to know what will up and kill you?

    Hot Air Ballooning for example, supposed to be one of the safest modes of flight? Last Saturday morning it took the lives of 11 people in NZ. One balloon, hugely experienced pilot–hit power-lines on his descent–the balloon shot back up into the air about 150 metres after bursting into flames… and then dropped like a bomb. Total loss of life. So very sad…

  7. “The company says the faulty cord has been replaced.” Words like stable, door, horse & bolted spring to mind.

  8. I’ve been on that bridge myself and watched several bungee jumpers take the plunge. My daredevil daddy wanted to do it, but I (surprisingly) convinced him not to.

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