A 32-year-old man died from injuries related to a fall 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 5, in Day Canyon, west of Moab. Day Canyon is a drainage north of Long Canyon, which is accessed by State Route 279, also known as Potash Road.
Adam Jason Weber of Salt Lake City and his fiance Stacee McConnell Shiner were participating in a tandem rope swing that included a rappel to the canyon floor after completing the swing, according to deputies from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
Weber apparently was refastening his harness onto a separate rappel line from the swing rope when “something happened,” Grand County Sheriff’s Lt. Kim Neal said.
“All we can say is we have a lot of this — it goes with climbing and rappelling,” Neal said. “Some people are careful, but they need to be extremely cautious.”
Weber fell 100 feet while rigging the rappel after the swing.
Neal said a group of experienced climbers spent days stretching an aircraft-grade cable 600 feet across Day Canyon, and that a handful of them had swung successfully from that metal cable before Weber and Shiner took a plunge.
Shiner was left stranded by Weber’s fall, but other friends helped her rappel down to the canyon floor.
Officials said a medical helicopter crew reached the man while he was still alive, but he later died of injuries.
“The canyon is very narrow, but we were able to land a chopper in the bottom of the canyon,” said sheriff’s deputy Darrel Meacham.
Weber’s brother, Matthew, said that Weber was very active and loved the outdoors.
“He was always an adventurous kid,” Matthew Weber said of his brother. The two were part of family that had ten children. “He built rope swings over the pond. He jumped off the barn roof.”
Matthew Weber said that in April his brother and Shiner announced their engagement to be married.
“He really loved Stacee and they loved going to southern Utah for rock climbing and rappelling together. They enjoyed being adventurous,” he said.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office has investigated three fatalities this year involving rappel or rope swing accidents this year.
On March 13, Zachary Taylor, age 20 of Moab, died after falling 110 feet while rappelling with friends near Tear Drop Arch in the Pritchett Canyon area.
Eleven days later, on March 24, Kyle Lee Stocking, age 22 of West Jordan, died while attempting to rope swing on Corona Arch. He fell to his death due to too much slack in the line.
Rope swinging has been made so popular by YouTube videos that Utah has banned the activity by commercial outfitters on state trust lands, leaving so-called “pendulum swingers” on their own. The sport is unregulated on federal range lands.
The sport has taken a boost from YouTube. One video titled “World’s Largest Rope Swing” has racked up more than 20 million views since it was posted in February.
The sheriff’s office urges outdoor enthusiasts to use extreme caution when participating in outdoor activity.
Grand County Search and Rescue has responded to 24 incidents so far this year, giving a ratio of one in eight missions that is responding to a fatal accident. Search and Rescue had a record number of missions last year with 108. Yet, even with the record number of calls, they responded to only one fatality in 2012.