Elk Falls offers no second chance

KRISTEN'S COMMENT: Summer is approaching and increasing amounts of visitors are being drawn to the park by the new suspension bridge

Despite the warning signs, it seems people just can’t resist getting too close to the edge to get a good look at Elk Falls.

Last week Campbell River Search and Rescue issued a warning to the community after photos and a YouTube video surfaced of young people sitting precariously close to the edge of the 25 metre cliff above the falls.

As Grant Cromer with Search and Rescue put it, there is no chance of surviving a ride over the falls and there are no second chances if you get too close to the edge and fall in to the fast moving currents.

With summer approaching and increasing amounts of visitors being drawn to the park by the new suspension bridge, it’s important that people are made aware of the dangers surrounding the falls.

That’s not to say that people shouldn’t enjoy the falls, but enjoy them from the safety of the suspension bridge or one of the three view points that all afford breath-taking views of the roaring waterfall.

We’re fortunate that BC Parks allows us to get close to the falls by going out on the rocks above Elk Falls, but some people are taking it to the extreme.

Nearly every time I’ve been to Elk Falls during the summer months, there has been at least one person out on the cliff overhanging the falls, usually trying to take pictures.

I remember my grandpa doing that very same thing whenever he’d come for a visit, much to the horror of my parents.

My mom was livid that he was getting too close and setting a bad example for my sister and I who were young and of course wanted to do what grandpa was doing.

My mom, like so many other parents, was looking out for the safety of her kids and didn’t want us anywhere near the edge.

That seems to be the case with most parents, who are protecting their children by keeping them back a safe distance, but they’re not following their own advice.

The most recent fatalities with people going over the falls have involved adults.

It’s common for us to think ‘it won’t happen to me, I’m careful.’ But on the uneven, jagged surface of the rocks, all it takes is for someone to trip and lose their balance and fall into the fast-moving water.

I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like for the families who witnessed the two men who most recently went over the falls, lose their lives – one who was taking photos, lost his footing and fell in and another who was trying to fill up a glass of water.

After the last incident, BC Parks put up signs near the rocks warning people about the hazards of getting too close to the edge and it would benefit us all if people would heed those warnings.

It ruins it for people who want to go and enjoy Elk Falls when they see people putting their lives at risk and it sends the wrong message to others who may think, ‘if they’re walking out that far, I can too.’

And not only that, when someone does go over the falls, Search and Rescue crews are put in a perilous situation.

They have to rappel down the rock face and swim in turbulent water while navigating sharp rocks.

It makes for a difficult and traumatic situation for both rescuers and the families of the victim. But this can easily all be avoided if people take care to be cautious and not test the limits.

Stay safe this summer and don’t become another statistic.