An 85-year old man from West Michigan has died following a zip-line accident.
James J. NcNeil plunged to his death on Thursday, at around 1:30 pm, while taking a zip-line ride at Bay Shore Camp, in Huron County Michigan. A zip-line consists in a group of steel cables, attached to towers or trees. Those who take such a ride glide from one end to the other while attached to a harness or a pulley.
Following NcNeil’s fall, deputies from the Huron County Sheriff Department were called to investigate the scene of the accident, at the Christian camp, located at 450 N Miller, Sebewaing Township.
According to eyewitnesses and video footage, NcNeil had just started his descent down the zip line, and fell 25 feet to the ground, as the harness mechanism detached itself from the rope. His wife, who was also present at the Christian camp, witnessed the unsettling scene.
After the accident, rescuers tried their best to resuscitate the man, but to no avail. NcNeil was transported immediately to Scheurer Hospital in Pigeon, but he never regained consciousness and eventually was pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled, to be performed by the Huron County Medical Examiner.
According to a preliminary investigation carried out by officials, the safety equipment tying the man to the zip line was in good working condition, so it is unclear for now how it became separated from the rope. Moreover, it has been reported that the attendant in charge of operating the zip line had the required certification and training.
Another incident of this kind took place in North Carolina on June 11, when a 12-year old died at Camp Cheerio, after the tether attaching her to the zip line broke unexpectedly. A similar accident, involving a pendulum swing, caused the death of a 16-year old girl on July 13, at Brevian Christian camp in South Carolina.
As a result, state lawmakers passed a new law regulating “aerial amusement devices” like ropes courses, zip-lines and pendulum swings. House Bill 29 now imposes heavier penalties for those who illegally operate such devices, and gives the Department of Labor the authority to regulate all zip line operations.
Currently however, the industry self-regulates itself and there is no federal legislation in this field. There are just two trade organizations who set standards regulating zip-lines: the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) and the Professional Ropes Course Association.
These groups also provide certifications to inspectors and accreditation to builders. There is no data regarding how many zip lines operate throughout the country, but thousands of children and adults use this type of aerial devices.
According to news accounts, before this recent incident, 12 other people had been killed while zip-lining ever since 2006. However, their number may be higher, since few states have records regarding such accidents or deaths.
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