Boy Scout died in fall from Utah’s Gemini Bridges

July 19, 2010

Tragic accident at a spectacular site in Utah’s desert.

A Scout from Wisconsin attempted a leap from one part of a natural bridge to another, lost his balance and fell to his death.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City:

A Wisconsin Boy Scout died Saturday after falling 100 feet from Grand County’s Gemini Bridges.

Anthony Alvin, 18, of Green Lake, Wis., was with a Scout group at the Gemini Bridges rock formation, which is on federal land northwest of Moab, deputies wrote in a press statement. At about 9:30 a.m., Alvin tried to jump from one span of the double bridge to the other span, six feet away, when he fell backwards, dropping 100 feet to the bottom of the bridges.

Rescuers rappelled off the bridges and found Alvin had died. His body was lowered down two separate cliffs to the bottom of Bull Canyon, deputies wrote.

Erin Alberty

Anthony Alvin was a member of Troop 630 from Green Lake, Wisconsin, in the Bay Lakes Council, BSA.  The Troop has years of experience in high adventure trips.  This was a transition trip for Alvin, moving from Scout to leader.

High adventure Scouting takes teens to outstanding places with some risks.  Strict safety rules protect Scouts and leaders from most accidents.  Jumping the gap between the two natural bridge sections is a leap that experienced rock climbers and Scouters should advise against — and probably did — precisely because of the dangers of minor mishaps, 100 feet or more in the air.  A six-foot gap would look eminently leapable to a capable young man.

This is a picture of Gemini Bridges from below:

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah - NaturalArches.org image

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah, from below. Image from NaturalArches.org image, photo by Galen Berry.

NaturalArches.org includes details about many of these natural spans in the desert Southwest, in Utah and Arizona.  For Gemini Bridges we get this warning note:

These magnificent twin bridges are a popular 4-wheel drive destination on BLM land northwest of Moab, Utah. A few foolhardy individuals have lost their lives here. One person fell to his death while attempting to jump the 10 feet between the two spans, and in October 1999 a jeep and driver fell 160 feet off the outer span.

From atop the bridges, the gap between the two can appear deceptively small — see one view here.

Gemini Bridges from the trail, on top - PaulandKate.com

For safety’s sake, no one should attempt to leap the gap without proper rock-climbing safety equipment in place and in use — and frankly, I’m not sure how it could be secured even then, in the sandstone.

Redrock country brings out the worst in otherwise adventurous-but-mostly-sane people.  Even rock climbers will act irresponsibly.

Four-wheelers and off-road vehicles frequently climb these trails — despite the dangers, the area offers a huge playground for people out of the jurisdiction of the National Park Service or National Forest Service, each of which discourage excessive vehicular risk taking.   Several sites extoll the glories of conquering these deserts with gasoline-power.

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges, from rockclimbing.com

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges captured on film, from rockclimbing.com

The photo at the bottom shows a memorial plaque to the four-wheeler who lost his life off of Gemini Bridges in 1999.  So long as people make monuments to people who pull daredevil stunts, others who have less experience, or even more sense, will be tempted to try the same daredevil stuff.

Go to these wild and beautiful places.  Please remember they are treacherous, however, and stay safe.

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

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Never hike alone

April 30, 2009

Not even if you’re an Eagle Scout.

Scott Mason of Halifax, Massachusetts, survived three nights on snowy Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.  He nursed his sprained ankle, and kept warm with fires he started using hand sanitizer.

(Boston Globe) Mason later told his mother that he had tweaked his leg during the hike and that it was bothering him. As a precaution, he was taken to the Androscoggin Valley Regional Hospital, where he was evaluated and released.

Back in Halifax, his troop issued a statement, “Boy Scouts of America Troop 39 Halifax, Massachusetts, is extremely pleased with the positive outcome of this incident. Scott is a bright young man and our most experienced hiker. We have no doubt that he put all of his training and skills to use in order to come through this ordeal.”

Mason received an award two years ago for collecting more than 3,200 pounds of food for the Greater Boston Food Bank and the Pine Street Inn. For his Eagle Scout project, he collected the food by leaving boxes at Halifax area businesses. He has been a Boy Scout since he was 11.

Not only is Scouting an adventure, it prepares you to get out of even your own mistakes.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Randy Possehl on the Scouts-L list.


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