Bungee breaks

If this bungee cord looks totally ancient, frayed, and useless, you’re right.

I’ve wanted to bungee jump for years.

Not anymore. Check out this amateur video of an Australian student whose rope snapped while bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge last week.

Erin Langworthy, 22, paid $120 to a Zambian adventure company called Victoria Falls Bungee so she could dive off the bridge on New Year’s Eve.

The Victoria Falls Bridge is 111 meters above the Zambezi River which divides Zambia and Zimbabwe. Oh, and I should also add that the Zambezi River is infested with CROCODILES. So if her rope snapped, a croc-infested river would pretty much be the worst kind of river she could fall into, right? [other than a river infested with angry grizzly bears surfing on crocodile backs. That would suck.]

Victoria Falls Bungee’s website touts a commitment to safety, although they warn that their bungee jump is “111 metres of pure adrenalin!” The Zambian government says 50,000 people have made this leap. Their website describes it as “the highest commercial bridge jump in the world in the most spectacular setting”.

So Erin took a leap of faith. With a helpful nudge from a bungee employee, Erin dove into space, trusting her rope wouldn’t turn into two shorter ropes. She soared down towards the river…and the rope held just fine on the all-important first bounce. But as she sprung back up, her rope snapped. Uh-oh. Erin plunged about 40 meters into the Zambezi River, her legs still tied by the severed rope.

Up on the bridge, you can hear her shocked friends swearing, then lapsing into silence…almost as if they’re secretly hoping the rope snap is just an example of Zambian showmanship. But then we hear a scared voice ask, “Oh my god, who’s going to do something?”

Meanwhile, Erin blacked out from the impact. Worse, as the current carried her down to the rapids, her bungee cord started snagging on rocks and pulling her underwater.

Not a ghost of Erin

Erin lives???

Back home, Erin told Australia’s Channel 9 that it felt like she’d been slapped all over.

“I actually had to swim down and yank the bungee cord out of whatever it was caught into,” she said.

Now, I know you’re TOTALLY FREAKING OUT right now but don’t worry, that’s not Erin’s ghost talking to reporters. You see, Erin somehow magically lived! She managed to free the rope from the submerged debris, then swam to the rocky Zimbabwe shore.

When rescuers pulled her out, they rolled her on her back, which, with all the water in her lungs, would have drowned her. So she got them to flip her over, then she thanked them by coughing up some souvenir water and blood. Then she was airlifted over 1,000 kilometers to a hospital in South Africa. Her back was covered in cuts, bruises, and scrapes. According to Sky News in the UK, “doctors were amazed she hadn’t been more seriously hurt.”

“It’s definitely a miracle that I survived,” said the Totally-Not-a-Ghost-of-Erin. Also: this is what Victoria Falls looks like:

Victoria FallsSo to recap: a backpacker falls from a 111-meter-high bridge over a deadly river. Her rope snaps. She slams into the water, survives, but blacks out. Plus her ankles are tied together so when she comes to, she can’t use her legs. As the river sends her battered body through the rapids, the rope snags and drags her underwater. So she swims down, releases herself, then swims through crocodile-filled waters to the shore…where she instructs her rescuers how to properly rescue her.

Who IS this student? Is she majoring in ‘Action Filmmaking’ with a minor in ‘Doing All Your Own Stunts’?  I give her an A+ and a warning to avoid adrenalin sports in developing nations.

So…knowing all this, are you still interested in adding bungee jumping to your Bucket List? Then you’ll be happy to know that the tour company, Victoria Falls Bungee, has replaced the quote-unquote “faulty cord” and claim these jumps are still safe.


— Ken Hegan

Bing: how safe is bungee jumping?

Read all of Ken’s MSN posts here and follow Ken to victory on Twitter

Video stills from Channel 9 Australia 

Photo of Victoria Falls courtesy Mirrorpix/Everett Collection 

Sources: Reuters, Sky News, Channel 9, The Sunday Mirror, The National Post