Ziplining industry emphasizing safety after accident injures Ga. woman

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email
Zip line safety

At Kackleberry Farm, the adventure starts with a safety harness. (WRDW-TV / May 30, 2012)

News 12 This Morning / Wednesday, May 30, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Thrill-seekers looking for an adventure this summer may not be as quick to strap on the harness and go down a zip line after hearing about a Georgia woman's tragic accident.

Grad student Aimee Copeland made national headlines after she fell from a homemade zip line, cut her leg and became infected with flesh-eating bacteria.

Kackleberry Farm is one of the few places in the CSRA where you can hang more than 50 feet from the ground and zip through the air.

It's far from a homemade zip line, which they say can be dangerous.

Inspections, daily maintenance and trained professionals are all a part of the experience to make sure the five zip lines operate safely.

At Kackleberry, the adventure starts with a safety harness.

"The participants never touch their own system as they go through. It's a blade system and they never touch it," said Lisa Vaughn, who runs Kackleberry Farm with her husband.

The harness locks into place and is tightly secured around the hips to the point of a little discomfort. Vaughn walks everyone through step by step as visitors make their way up to the tower.

"We have additional harnesses if they are nervous. We have a chest harness, a hip harness," Vaughn added. "When a group goes up, they are going with two guides, one in front and one behind."

The extra security comes in handy, especially in the wake of Copeland's accident.

"That can be such a mistake. Homemade zip lines are fun. A lot of people have them in their backyard," Vaughn said.

However, she is quick to point out that they can be dangerous without a trained professional.

"Most people who have heard realize that it was the homemade zip line and realize a lot of it was the conditions on which she had her accident," Vaughn said.

She says it hasn't slowed business but people are more curious about the precautions Kackleberry takes.

"Someone runs through every day we are open and does a checklist to check for loose screws or anything that might have happened," Vaughn said.

The trained guides go through weeks of training so that visitors feel safe while their gliding down cables as long as 700 feet.

If you are interested in visiting Kackleberry and taking part in the zip line experience, call (706) 830-4968 to reserve a time and spot. You can also visit their website here to learn more about the process.


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