Bungee jumping tragedy

Dutch teen killed in bungee accident misunderstood verbal instructions

Sources believe that 17-year-old mistook monitor saying “no jump” for “now jump”

Video: The Cedeja viaduct where the 17-year-old died (Spanish captions).Video: Javier Rosendo | JR González Soutullo

“No jump. It’s important. No jump,” were the last words one of the Spanish monitors overseeing a group of bungee jumpers in northern Spain said to a 17-year-old Dutch woman who died after falling more than 30 meters from a bridge.

The ongoing police investigation into the accident now seems to point to a linguistic misunderstanding as a possible cause. Sources believe that the young woman thought she heard the monitor say “now jump,” instead of “no jump,” prompting her to leap off the bridge before her harness had been properly fixed.

The young woman leapt off the bridge before her harness had been properly fixed

The accident happened on Monday evening at around 8.30pm on a viaduct on a stretch of the A8 highway close to the village of Cabezón de la Sal, in the northern region of Canabria. A group of 13 Dutch and Belgian visitors, all minors, accompanied by five monitors were bungee jumping. The young woman who died was the last but one to jump, and it was her first time carrying out the activity, say sources.

Local authorities say they had no knowledge that the bridge was being used by companies providing tourism activities for young people staying at summer camps in the area. “We are very surprised, we didn’t know people were bungee jumping from there,” says Joaquín González, head of the local police department.

The teenagers were jumping from a platform about eight meters below the road. To reach it, they had to make their way along a dirt track through the vegetation alongside a dried river bed. They then climbed up one of the bridge’s support arches using ropes attached to the bridge.

They are all in shock. One girl, a friend of hers, hasn’t said a word since” Local campsite manager

The Spanish authorities describe the bridge as “extremely risky,” and that the organizers lacked permission to use it. Isabel Fernández, the mayor of Cabezón de la Sal, says the local council was never contacted about such activities.

The company concerned, FlowTrack, has been bringing groups of Dutch and Belgian teenagers to the area for more than five years. The young woman who died was part of a group of 150 teenagers who were staying at a nearby camping site.

“They are all in shock,” says the manager of the campsite. “They still cannot believe it. One girl, a friend of hers, hasn’t said a word since.” Most of the group has decided not to return home, preferring to support each other. The parents of the dead girl have not yet traveled to Spain, but are in contact with FlowTrack about transferring her body.


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