Raleigh thrill-seekers use caution after zip line death

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After a fatal zip line accident in Delaware, local thrill-seekers are reminded to always be cautious (WTVD)

Have you ever been zip-lining? It's exhilarating. At least, that's what most people who've done it will tell you. But as a fatal accident in Delaware reminds us, it's not without risk.

The 59-year-old woman who died reportedly fell off a platform some 40 feet in the air after unclipping herself, against safety recommendations. The Go Ape zip lining course offered condolences but pointed out she used the equipment incorrectly.

Read more about the accident here.

For folks having fun at the Go Ape zip line course at North Raleigh's Blue Jay Point Park, safety wasn't a big concern.

"I did feel safe because they had a safety training before you can go in anywhere," said Mervi Eeva, a mother taking taking two 11-year-olds on the course. "There's a little practice area that you practice hooking and unhooking safely and using everything safely."

"I didn't feel unsafe," said Kira Martin, one of the 11-year-olds, "but I was scared a little bit because if you look down you can see everything below you and it just sort of freaks you out."

David Vaughan wasn't zip lining, but watched his wife and son go on the course. He also watched the instructions given before they were turned loose on the course.

"The instructions at the beginning were very clear," Vaughan said. "And the instructor made clear that they were understood, both verbal and visual notifications."

But there's not always a supervisor or guide on the platforms in the trees, which is where the Delaware accident occurred.

"At the high platforms, there's nobody," said Eeva. "There's someone on the ground. But in the safety instructions, they go through how you have two safety lines so you always do one and then the other one."

Technically, a rider should never be unhooked at any time.

"If you follow the rules you shouldn't have any problems," Eeva said.

"It was nice knowing that even though they weren't up there with us," Martin chimed in, "that they were watching us and making sure we were doing everything right.

But where there's little oversight on the course, there's no oversight of the course at the state level.

Just like with classes in parasailing, hang-gliding, water skiing, white water rafting, rock climbing, and myriad other potentially dangerous activities, there are no state regulations or certifications for zip lining courses or companies.

Just last year, a 12-year-old girl from Wilmington died when her zip line harness broke at a YMCA camp in the mountains.

Earlier this year, the NC Department of Labor wrote state lawmakers a letter suggesting a certification and monitoring program for zip lining and a bill was crafted. It was never voted on.

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