Spanish bungee jumping instructor’s “poor English” contributed to the 2015 death of a Dutch teenager who leaped from a bridge before her rope was attached, a judge has said, ruling his employer will face prosecution.
Vera Mol, 17, died in August 2015 when she jumped from a viaduct on a highway in Cantabria as part of a group trip organised by a local adventure sports company.
The girl had misunderstood an instruction from the instructor to “No jump” as “Now jump”, when he in fact intended to say “don’t jump”, the judge wrote in the ruling reported by EuropaPress.
The director of the company will now face prosecution for homicide through negligence, after appealing a court ruling last year. The appeal had argued that the teenager had jumped before she was told to.
But the appeal judge said the instructor’s level of English was not sufficient to be guiding foreigners in “something as delicate as jumping into the void from an elevated point”.
Mol’s death resulted in part from a “misunderstanding derived from the incorrect use and pronunciation of English”, the ruling said.
This was just one of the instances of apparent criminal negligence in the facts around Mol’s death, it noted.
The teenager had not been attached to any kind of safety line for the ascent, and was underage – the instructor “did not bother himself” to check for parental consent. None of the group had anywhere to stand but “on the edge of the abyss” while they waited for their equipment, the court said.
Bungee jumping was also “expressly prohibited” from a viaduct on a highway, it noted.