Alex, a tennis player at the University of Oregon, tragically died this weekend after diving near the water fall of a popular Oregon swimming hole.
Sadly, Alex’s story is not unique. Each year, thousands of people are injured from jumping off of cliffs or rock formations into popular swimming areas around the country. People just don’t realize the forces involved in high jumping.
According to the US National Park Service, if you jump from 20 feet above the water, you’ll hit the water at 25 miles per hour. The impact is severe enough to compress your spine, break bones or give you a concussion — and that’s if you enter the water properly. If you slip or mistime your jump, it is almost like hitting concrete. If you jump from 10 feet, you can reach speeds of 17 miles per hour — fast enough to damage a car in a car wreck, and fast enough to hurt you.
But in most of our Texas lakes, rivers and creeks, there are additional risks. With our drought and fluctuating water levels, it’s very difficult to know what hidden dangers lurk below the surface. It’s difficult to know what rocks, stumps, or other dangerous items lurk just beneath the surface.
In many ways, I’m a bit hypocritical on this issue. When I was a kid, my dad lived on a lake, and we were always happy to jump off small rock formations. But doing this job, I’ve seen too many seriously injured, including a good friend of mine, trying to have a little fun. None of that fun is worth a life-time of problems.