Man dead after Corona Arch rope swing accident

Posted at 8:08 AM, Mar 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-25 13:52:39-04

GRAND COUNTY, Utah - A 22-year-old man died Sunday afternoon as he attempted to use a rope swing at Corona Arch in Grand County.

The Grand County Sheriff's Office says Kyle D. Stocking of West Jordan died Sunday at the arch after he and his friends miscalculated the length of a rope, causing him to fall nearly 130 feet and hitting the ground.

Stocking's parents say he was an experienced rock climber, but professionals say Corona Arch can be dangerous, even for experienced outdoorsmen.

"There's way to much to put into this that people aren't thinking about. There's angles, there's proper length. There's so much stuff that has to go into this," said Chuck James.

Chuck and Thad James, with Utah High Adventure, say they've taken dozens of people to rope swing on the arch, but they stopped doing it last year because of the danger.

"We knew it was an accident waiting to happen," Thad James said.

Corona Arch is on land owned by the state through the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration and, in January, they shut down commercial use of the swing hook-ups because of safety issues, but they say it's impossible to enforce public use.

"We recognize there's an inherent risk with any kind of outdoor recreation activity, but we do what we can to warn them in circumstances like this, especially with Corona Arch," said Kim Christy, deputy director of SITLA.

A sign at the trailhead outlines those risks, warning that climbing in and swinging from Corona Arch is dangerous and potentially fatal, even if your equipment works.

The arch will remain closed while the Grand County Sheriff's Office conducts its investigation. After that, it will reopen to the public and the state hopes future tourist will carefully consider any extreme activities.

Stocking's parents released a statement Monday afternoon, saying, "It is the most tragic experience to receive the phone call from the sheriff letting you know that your son has been killed in a terrible accident that could have been avoided. We hope and pray that there will be no more parents experiencing what we are going through. There is a huge in hole in our hearts."