A former Colorado Mesa University student’s death is continuing to be investigated after a Jan. 4 bungee-jumping accident at Grand Junction’s Get Air at the Silo, a trampoline and amusement park that is part of a larger national chain. The park reopened a few days afterward but without the silo attraction where the accident took place.
According to two witnesses, Ciara Romero’s carabiner flew off after she made her jump from the 80-foot-tall platform inside the park’s characteristic silo. The information comes from a 27-page Grand Junction Police Department report that includes witness, officer and Get Air employee accounts of the incident.
Romero jumped from the platform, attached to the bungee device, but when it was supposed to safely catch her at the end of the fall, the carabiner reportedly flew off and she fell to her death.
“It was clipped, I mean it was 75 feet so I couldn’t see precisely, but it was clipped where it was supposed to be. And then the next moment she twisted and … well it had flung off once it caught, and she twisted, and I couldn’t quite see what was happening,” an employee reportedly told police. “I thought it had just caught and she was being belayed down. And then as soon as I thought that, I saw that she was falling much faster and so I just instinctively tried to get underneath her.”
In the report, a detective said that “there did not appear to be any flaws or damage” to Romero’s harness or carabiner at the scene.
“I found the carabiner to be relatively easy to open with one hand and believe a patron could inadvertently open the device without knowing if they were clutching it with one or both hands,” the report read. “Adrenaline experienced by the participant could contribute to this as well.”
Head Rush Technologies’s QUICKjump XL free fall device, the one used at the silo, has been tested by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and ruled out as a cause of the accident, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. State officials, while still investigating the cause, expect a final report to be released soon.
Romero was joined that day with a group of friends and family, according to the report, and a friend jumped before her with no issues. Employees said Romero was nervous before jumping, but this was normal behavior.
The employee stationed at the top of the jump was reported to be focused and attentive to Romero and did not seem to be careless or reckless, according to the report which was referring to surveillance footage.
“Her hands are near her torso where the attachment (D ring) on her harness is and her back is to the camera,” the report said. “I could not tell on the video if Ciara accidentally opens the carabiner prior to the jump or not. It is clear the line goes down with her initially when she jumps, either from her hands holding it or because the line is attached to her harness. The line (with the carabiner attached) quickly returns to the top position indicating Ciara’s harness became detached at some point before or during the descent.”
At 3:52 p.m. that day, emergency personnel were dispatched to Get Air at the Silo for “a report of a woman who had fallen from a significant height inside the facility and was unresponsive,” according to Grand Junction Police Spokesperson Heidi Davidson.
Romero was transported to St. Mary’s hospital with life-threatening injuries and died later that night.
While 20-year-old Romero had attended classes at CMU in the fall, she was not enrolled in any spring 2018 classes at the time of her death, according to CMU spokesperson Dana Nunn. Romero was a certified nursing assistant at Hilltop in Grand Junction.
Get Air at the Silo has been a popular spot for CMU students; the Outdoor Program has frequently made trips to the location.
While there has been no evidence of blame on the establishment, a Facebook group with over 300 members has been calling for a boycott of Get Air.
“Boycott Get Air! Just because they don’t deserve my money until they do what they know in their hearts they should do,” one member wrote in the group.
Shortly after the accident, Get Air at the Silo made their Facebook page private and has not republished it since then. Requests for comment on this decision have not been returned by the company. Their Twitter and Instagram, however, remain available.