CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As resorts across the country promote ziplines, canopy tours and other kinds of "aerial adventure," West Virginia has become one of 10 states to impose safety and maintenance guidelines on those rides.
The number of resorts in the United States that offer ziplines, canopy tours or some sort of aerial trekking facility have more than doubled in the past year, according to James Borishade, executive director of the Association for Challenge Course Technology.
West Virginia offers ziplining at 16 resorts, ranking it in the top-10 places in the country for adventure-sport enthusiasts, Borishade said.
Last summer, West Virginia began to regulate safety and maintenance guidelines for those operations through the Zipline and Canopy Tour Responsibility Act.
Since state legislators passed the bill, five people have reported injuries sustained while ziplining.
On June 10, a mother and her young son collided with another zipliner at River Riders in Harpers Ferry because of aguide's failure to communicate via radio, according to an incident report provided by the state government's Division of Labor.
The accident left the mother, a Pennsylvania resident, with torn ligaments and tendons in her leg and her son with a facial injury that led to his being tested as legally blind in one eye on the day of the collision, according to the report.
The zipliner with whom the mother and son collided sustained a concussion, the report stated.
"In my opinion, the accident is directly related to an operator error. I do not feel this was intentional or negligent on any party involved, and I believe that a lapse in good judgment and inexperience on the guide's part [definitely] played a part," Division of Labor compliance officer Michael Ayers stated in an incident report obtained by the Gazette-Mail.
Two additional accident investigations have been conducted at the TimberTrek Ariel Adventure Park at Adventures on the Gorge in Fayette County.
In one of those incidents, the leg loops of a man's harness failed, causing him to fall about 20 feet to the ground after being suspended "in a crucifix manner," according to an incident report.