Survivor of 365-Foot Bungee Fall Says ‘Maybe’ to Future Jumps

Jan 9, 2012 7:00am

The woman who survived a near-death fall  into a crocodile-infested river when her bungee cord snapped was able to smile and laugh about her harrowing adventure today, even suggesting she might try it again.

Erin Langworthy,  a 22-year-0ld student from Australia, described her remarkably cool reaction to a 360 foot plunge into the churning waters of the  Zambezi River at Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, after a Dec. 31 bungee jump that went terribly wrong.

After leaping from a bridge above the water, Langworthy zoomed towards the river, with her legs tied together by the bungee cord.  Instead of recoiling back up, as planned, the cord instead snapped, sending her head first into the river’s rapids.

“She was supposed to come right back out and she never did, so it was crazy,” her friend Rebecca Johnson,  who captured her friend’s fall on camera from atop the bridge, told “Good Morning America” today in a live interview from South Africa, where Langworthy continues to nurse her wounds.

“Everybody on the bridge just panicked,” Johnson said.

Langworthy blacked out when her head hit the water, so it was Johnson who told her friend what happened.

“Rebecca told me later as soon as the rope snaps, I actually bring my arms up over my face to protect my head when I hit the water, so that probably saved me a lot,” she said.

Langworthy was dragged under the water a couple times, and was drawn towards roaring rapids.

“As I’m floating along I hear this huge roar in the background and it was the rapids,” she said.  “Luckily I’d been whitewater rafting the morning of, so I remembered some of the safety tips they gave me, but that was a scary bit.”

The bungee cord that was still tied to her legs threatened to drag her down as well.

“The actual bungee cord was still attached so I actually got completely sucked under, and the rope gets stuck under a couple of times, so I had to actually go down and yank it back up so I could go back up to the surface,” she said on “GMA.”

She was eventually able to swim to the side of the river and pull herself onto dry land. It was only later that she was told the river is infested with crocodiles.

“That was a bit of a surprise to me,” she said.  “I might have tried to swim a little faster.”

Langworthy spent a week in the hospital with a fractured collar bone and cuts and bruises along her legs and arms.  Her most serious injury, damage to both lungs, has delayed her return home to Perth, Australia.

“My main concern is my lungs,” she said.  “They’re still giving me trouble so I can’t fly yet. I’m stuck in South Africa for a bit longer than I’d originally planned.”

Langworthy appeared to have mixed feelings about another bungee jump.

“That was my first and most likely my last time,” she said of her bungee jumping experience. But she later allowed, “Maybe in the future, some time.”

She said the jump operator gave her no warning that anything dangerous could happen.

“There was nothing. There were no oral instructions to be careful of anything,” she said of Shearwater Victoria Falls, the company with which she made the jump.  “We did sign a form saying you jump at your own risk, but I don’t think they were quite expecting the cord to break.”

The operating company, Shearwater Victoria Falls, says Langworthy’s fall is the first time in the company’s 17 years of operations, and more than 150,000 successful jumps, that the bungee cord has failed.

The company said in a statement to ABC News that they continue to investigate why the bungee cord failed in Langworthy’s case, but have implemented new safety precautions, including new bungee cords and more stringent testing measures such as daily test jumps by their own employees, in the meantime.

“We are treating this incident with the upmost seriousness and our aim now is to learn what we can from this and apply that knowledge so as to ensure that there is no reoccurrence,” the company said.

 

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