Bungee jumping tragedy

Tour firm that organized Dutch teen’s fatal bungee jump faces legal action

Cantabria highway authority mulls fining Aqua 21 for using road bridge for “banned” activity

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

The tour company that organized a bungee-jump in which a Dutch teenager died on Monday now faces possible legal action from the Spanish government. The regional highways authority in Cantabria, where the accident took place, says it is considering imposing a fine on Aqua 21 for using a road bridge for a “banned” activity. At the same time, a parallel judicial investigation into whether anyone should be held criminally responsibility for the tragedy remains open.

A parallel judicial investigation into whether anyone should be held criminally responsibility for the tragedy remains open

An organizer of what it calls “multi-adventure” activities, Aqua 21 was subcontracted by FlowTrack, the Belgian holiday firm that brought the group of Dutch and Belgian teenagers to Spain that included the victim. Seventeen-year-old Vera Mol died on Monday after jumping from the Cedeja viaduct, which is on a stretch of the A8 highway, near the village of Cabezón de la Sal.

A group of 13 Dutch and Belgian visitors, all minors, accompanied by five monitors were bungee jumping at the site. Mol was the last but one to jump, and it was her first time carrying out the activity, say sources.

Witnesses say she probably misunderstood the warning not to jump given by one of the monitors of the group, who was adjusting her harness at the time she plunged around 32 meters off the bridge into a river bed. It is believed he said “No jump,” which the young woman may have misheard as “now jump.”

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.

Spain has no specific legislation regulating bungee jumping, but highway laws prevent bridges being used for this purpose

The road bridge belongs to the Spanish Public Works Ministry, which says it was not contacted for permission to arrange bungee jumps from it. But the regional highways authority in Cantabria says that any such request would have been turned down, and that this extreme sport is banned in the region.

Spain has no specific legislation regulating bungee jumping, but the country’s highway laws prevent bridges being used for this purpose. “It’s part of a general set of laws that include stopping on a highway to take a picture, as well as leaping off a bridge to do bungee jumping,” said a government spokesman.

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.

The parents of the young woman are now in Cantabria. A post-mortem examination has been carried out and the body will likely be repatriated to the Netherlands over the next week.

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