A 23-year-old Oregon woman was standing on some rocks at the top of a waterfall taking photos of a male friend jumping into the river. She lost her balance, slipped and plunged 90-feet down the cliff into the river’s edge. Her friend unsuccessfully tried to give CPR. When investigators arrived at the scene, the woman was already dead. It is unclear whether she was using a camera or cellphone to take the photos.
In June, a 68-year-old New Jersey man was found lying at the bottom of a 40-foot cliff after going out on the rocks to take photographs of the sunset. He was visiting the park with his wife, who waited in the car in a nearby parking lot while he walked to a bluff to take photos. When he didn’t return, she stopped a park ranger who was driving by. The ranger found the man’s backpack at the top of a nearby cliff. His body was 40 feet below at the water’s edge.
These are only two of several tragic stories in the news over the last few years related to people falling from cliffs while taking photos. While it may be tempting to push the limits to snap some amazing photos, no view is worth losing your life.
Whether taking photos or just enjoying the view, please take note of the following cliff safety tips:
- Stick to the path and away from cliff edges.
- Wear comfortable footwear with a good grip – athletic shoes with non-slip rubber soles.
- Never walk along the cliffs alone. Ensure that you have a companion who can help if the need arises.
- Carry a cell phone so you can contact help if required, but don’t be distracted by your phone such that you ignore your surroundings.
- Cell phones may not work, so tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
- Be aware that wet trails or soft sand/earth can make for unstable footing. Rocks can be slippery even when it is not raining.
- Remember that some cliffs overhang or are unstable. Snowy and icy cliffs can also produce overhangs that may not be able to support your weight.
- If hiking, be sure to wear and carry the proper equipment. In addition to having good hiking shoes, wear clothing that hugs your body and won’t snag, secure your backpack and other equipment, and wear proper hiking gloves and harnesses, if necessary.
- Don’t pack too much, but be sure to have food, water, and a first aid kit. In the event you feel tired or hurt, stop and take advantage of these supplies.
- Take special care when hiking with children and pets. They may not see the cliff edges, especially when they get excited.
- Learn to read a map and be able to accurately report your location in the event you need emergency services.
- If you do proceed to the edge of a cliff for a better view, take extra caution. If you’re taking a picture, have your phone or camera ready before reaching the cliff edge. Better yet, put the camera away and simply enjoy the sights.
Most importantly, remember that no matter where you go, safety should be one of your biggest priorities. Your safety depends on your own good judgment, planning, and constant attention to your surroundings.
Have fun and enjoy the great outdoors!
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.