On Wednesday, Aug. 24, a 59-year-old woman fell to her death while participating in Go Ape’s Tree Top Adventure course at Lums Pond State Park in Delaware. An initial investigation appears to show the accident resulted from the participant disconnecting both belay line carabiners from the safety system, according to reports. The platform she fell from is 35 feet from the ground.
Park rangers and Go Ape employees performed first aid on the victim until paramedics arrived, but she was pronounced dead at Christiana Hospital.
“We are very saddened by the events from yesterday at our Lums Pond State Park location and feel deeply for the family and friends,” said Go Ape spokesman Jeff Davis in a statement. “We would like to thank the Delaware State Police, our Park Partners and the emergency services for their prompt assistance. The thoughts and prayers of all of us remain with the family and friends.”
The Delaware State Police are investigating the incident.
In his statement, Davis said, “Having completed her training on how to remain attached to the safety system the participant proceeded onto the course and progressed to the final platform of site 4, towards the end of the activity, where she fell from the platform to the ground. Participant witnesses have stated that at the time of the accident the participant had unfortunately disconnected herself from the safety system.”
The company performed a full inspection of the park and its equipment, particularly the platform at the end of site 4, and found “all of the course and associated safety equipment was and remains in sound operational condition. Nothing was broken or unserviceable.” The park remains closed at this time to assist with the investigation, and out of respect to the victim’s family. However, Go Ape plans no changes to the course stemming from this incident.
Participants at Go Ape courses are equipped with climbing harnesses and two belay lines with carabiners that they unclip and clip to safety wires in sequence as they move through the trees. It was confirmed that the woman went through the mandatory 30-minute ground school prior to participating. The course is self-guided, but Go Ape instructors patrol it from the ground to offer instruction and encouragement as needed.
The Go Ape attraction opened at Lums Pond in 2013, and Davis said its equipment is regularly inspected.