West Jordan man killed in rope-swinging accident at Corona Arch
by Lisa J. Church
staff writer
Mar 28, 2013 | 4746 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A West Jordan man was killed Sunday while attempting to rope-swing at Corona Arch, a popular destination for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts near Moab.             Photo by Lisa J. Church
A West Jordan man was killed Sunday while attempting to rope-swing at Corona Arch, a popular destination for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts near Moab. Photo by Lisa J. Church
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A West Jordan man was killed March 23, while rope-swinging with friends at Corona Arch near Moab. Kyle D. Stocking, 22, died at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Sunday while attempting to rope-swing from the top of the 140-foot sandstone arch, according Grand County Sheriff’s Lt. Kim Neal.

It was the second backcountry fatality in the Moab area in March. A Moab man, Zachary Taylor, 20, was killed March 13 in a rappelling accident at Poole Arch, approximately 5 miles west of town.

Neal said Stocking and five friends had hiked to the arch, which is about 12 miles west of Moab, and set up the rope swing that afternoon.

“ The length of the rope used to swing from the Arch was miscalculated and when [Stocking] swung under the arch he struck the ground ... under the Arch, receiving fatal injuries,” Neal said in a news release.

Stocking’s friends called for help and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Grand County Search and Rescue, Grand County Emergency Medical Services and a Careflight helicopter from St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., responded to the area of the accident. Stocking was dead when rescue workers arrived at the scene, Neal said.

In the past year, Corona Arch has become a popular spot for the extreme sport of rope-swinging after a video featuring a group of rock climbers rigging a rope and swinging from the arch appeared on YouTube. That video, shot by Provo filmmaker Devin Graham, went viral in 2012.

The arch is located on property currently owned by the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). In January, SITLA officials notified commercial outfitters that they could no longer take paying customers to Corona Arch. An outfitter based in Sandy, Utah, had been taking clients to the arch for rope-swinging over the past year. Other outfitters in the Moab area also took customers to Corona, but did not offer rope-swinging.

“We received a lot of calls about it after the video came out, people wanting to know if we could take them there to rope-swing,” said Emma Madera, co-owner of Moab Desert Adventures. “We did have a permit for the area and we took people to rappel off the arch, but we wouldn’t do rope-swinging. It’s just too dangerous.”

Thad James, who owns Utah High Adventure, the Sandy company that offered rope-swinging at Corona, told The Times-Independent in February that he believed SITLA should allow commercial outfitters to offer the experience because they know how to properly rig the lines and maintain safety.

At the time the ban was enacted, SITLA officials said private groups would still be able to rope-swing at Corona Arch.

The arch is included among approximately 46,000 acres of land located in Grand, Uintah and San Juan counties that SITLA plans to exchange with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for BLM lands that have a higher potential for mineral development.

BLM Utah State Director Juan Palma, called the incidents “tragic.”

“The Bureau of Land Management extends its sympathies to the families and friends of two young climbers recently killed in separate accidents in Eastern Utah,” Palma said. “Although these accidents were separate, unrelated incidents, it is always tragic when a young person’s life is cut short.”

BLM officials in the Canyon Country District, said they are currently reviewing extreme sport activities such as rope-swinging and high-lining with an eye to how to best balance uses and visitor experiences in the backcountry.

“The BLM Canyon Country District Office has been reviewing activities like rope swinging and high-lining, as well as the conflicts that can arise between high energy, high adrenaline pursuits and the more quiet experiences often sought by other public land users at scenic attractions like Corona Arch,” said Megan Crandall, BLM Utah spokesperson. “Looking ahead, the Moab Field Office will be taking a closer look at appropriate ways to balance and manage these activities on public lands.” 

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