MOAB — A West Jordan man was killed Sunday while attempting to swing from a large natural arch that has gained widespread notoriety from a YouTube video.
Kyle Stocking, 22, and five friends set up a rope swing on Corona Arch about 3:30 p.m. They miscalculated the length of the rope, however, and on their first jump of the day, Stocking hit the ground when he tried to swing, sustaining fatal injuries, the Grand County Sheriff's Office reported.
"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. It is the most awful experience a parent could go through," parents Mike and Linda Stocking said in a prepared statement. "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."
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.
Swinging off Corona Arch received notoriety in 2012 when a video titled "World's Largest Rope Swing" was posted on YouTube and instantly went viral. As of Monday, it had more than 17 million views.
Kody Seibold is one of several who have succeeded in the same feat. He said he wasn't worried because he trusted his friends who had jumped from the arch before.
"You feel trust in the guys you're with, if they know what they're doing. Obviously, miscalculations happen, but I think it's worth the risk," Seibold said.
On top of the arch, Seibold said there are four permanent bolts, securing four separate ropes. "We ran (the ropes) through a fire hose to prevent any of the ropes from fraying, because they're going against the rock," he said.
The arch is on property owned by the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Earlier this year, the state ruled that because of the liability presented by the dangers of the rope swing, commercial companies could no longer take paying customers to the swing. Private individuals were still allowed, however, to swing on or climb the arch.
Despite the deadly risk — and the proof of that risk cemented by Sunday's tragedy — Seibold said he'd swing from the arch again "in a heartbeat."
Investigators said many schools are currently on spring break, meaning the busy time of year has begun. Grand County Sheriff Steven White said his office does not have any statistics about whether the arch swing is getting more visitors because of the viral video, but he admitted Monday that his office has been hearing more about it in recent months.
Still, in an area where sheriff's deputies have responded to just about every type of outdoor recreation accident imaginable, he said those who choose to create a rope swing need to take safety precautions the same as BASE jumpers, rock climbers or mountain bikers do.
"Take the precautions and use the safety gear," White said. "We hope they take all the precautions they can and do everything to be as safe as they can."
Derek Stocking said his brother loved adventure, the outdoors and loved to rock climb.
"He is greatly missed," he said in an email. "We have felt the love and prayers of so many. Our hearts go out to Kyle's friends and we want them to know that we love them."