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Zip Lining Safety - Cruise Passenger Death Raises Safety Concerns

Cruise lines scramble to answer safety questions in the wake of tragedy

Ever thought of taking a zip-line tour while visiting the Caribbean? Adrenaline-pumping excursions are lightening rods for cruisers and resort guests who want to feel the rush in a relatively safe environment. But Barbara Sue Fojtasek, 44, of Texas found out that thrills can come with a steep price tag.

On March 18, Fojtasek fell more than 30 ft to her death during a canopy tour on the Honduran island of Conquering FearConquering FearRoatan while her husband and kids watched. The accident happened at a zip line center (Roatan's Gumbalimba Park) that caters to several cruise lines including Norwegian and Carnival.

Details reported by the media were initially sketchy, but CruiseCritic has confirmed that Fojtasek and her guide were traveling down the zip lines in tandem (attached so the guide could control breaking, etc). The pair arrived at a platform where the guide mistakenly unhooked the safety guide from one cable, but failed to reattach to the next one.

Between the next platforms, the primary cable snapped (they're not sure why yet) and they both fell. The guide was treated for serious injuries but has since been released from the hospital.

I took my first canopy tour in St. Lucia a few months ago - my partner shot video during the excursion. What you don't see in the video is my terror, my jello legs refusing to step up to the platform. You don't see me wiping tears away, desperate to conquer this adventure for my own.

I thought the fear was in my own head. But after Fojtasek's death, I'm more aware of what I should have been watching out for during the excursion.

The incident has raised serious concerns about the safety of canopy excursions. Who is responsible for making sure independent operators adhere to safety standards? Should people be given a safety briefing that includes a safety cross-checking?

In all fairness, this is the first incident of its kind involving a cruise ship passenger. What do you think? Would you take a zip line tour after this?

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Comments

Barb was the mother of one of my closest friends, Julia. She was an amazing person, and this is senseless loss of a life. I don't think zip-lining is the problem, it was the carelessness of this particular tour guide. One mistake cost the life of an amazing woman, and to have her family watch her death is the most horrible thing ever. It's a shame Barb had to die while this careless idiot walks away.

My entire family [including our 8 year old daughter] actually took THAT tour in November and they were fastidious about attaching our cables, I think the problem may have lain in that the tour guide, being so comfortable with that experience, that he became nonchalant about attaching his own safety. I feel for that family. I just can't imagine. ...raylene

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