Tourists on honeymoon collide while zip-lining, leaving husband dead and wife injured
A newlywed Israeli couple on their honeymoon collided while zip-lining in Honduras, leaving the husband dead and the wife seriously injured, Honduran authorities said.
The wife was zip-lining amid the treetops in Roatan, the largest of Honduras's Bay Islands, when she got stuck shortly before 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Wilmer Guerrero, commander of the Roatan Fire Department, told The Washington Post.
As she remained halfway down the cable, her husband came gliding down the zip line from behind, slamming into her, Guerrero said. The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to name the couple, but Honduran news outlets identified the husband as 24-year-old Egael Tishman and the wife as Shif Fanken, 27.
The newlyweds were visiting Roatan as part of a Royal Caribbean Cruises trip on the Allure of the Seas ship, Owen Torres, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean, confirmed to The Post.
Two ambulances rushed to the site of the zip line, located in the French Harbor neighborhood near a highway that stretches to the north side of the island, Guerrero said. Photos in Honduran news outlets show zip-line staff members wearing orange helmets carrying the tourists out of the forested area and into ambulances.
The couple suffered a number of serious injuries, including broken ribs, Guerrero said. Both were still conscious when they arrived at the hospital.
"The young man complained that he could not breathe," Guerrero said. "He was evaluated in the ambulance and was given oxygen."
Guerrero was informed Friday morning that Tishman had died hours earlier.
Guerrero said he had not yet learned the cause of death, but Honduras's Radio America reported that it may have been a brain hemorrhage.
The wife was transported by air to a hospital in the United States on Friday morning, Guerrero said. She underwent surgery and was in stable condition, Guerrero said.
On Friday, the Israeli Embassy in Guatemala was arranging to fly the husband's body to Israel for burial, the Israeli Foreign Ministry told the Times of Israel.
Meanwhile, Honduran authorities have launched an investigation to determine exactly how the accident happened, according to Spanish news agency EFE.
The Allure of the Seas set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 1 for a seven-night trip, Torres said. The couple had been married the day before departing on the cruise ship and arrived in Roatan on Thursday, Radio America reported.
Royal Caribbean is "providing support and assistance to the guests' family and friends," Torres said.
The cruise line offers a zip-lining excursion in Roatan called the "Extreme Caribe Zip Line Tour."
"Swoop above exotic plants, giant African Palms and beautiful landscapes," reads the Royal Caribbean online description of the zip-line tour, which consists of 12 zip lines, double gliding parallel cables, 18 platforms and four hiking trails. The longest cable stretches for 1,950 feet and the highest reaches 300 feet above the ground.
The excursion description also states that guests "must consider their physical fitness level and medical history when determining whether this tour is appropriate." It clarifies that pregnant women, and guests with back, neck, heart or respiratory problems should not participate in the tour.
Roatan, which is about 40 miles long and five miles wide, is located between the Utila and Guanaja Islands off the coast of Honduras. Its beaches and jungle wildlife make it a popular tourist attraction for diving, zip lining and hiking. It is also home to the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere.
According to Jim Walker, a lawyer who specializes in maritime litigation, this is not the first time a zip-line excursion in Roatan has resulted in injuries. About three years ago, a woman traveling on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship visiting the island was seriously injured while zip-lining, Walker wrote on his blog Cruise Law News. And about 10 years ago, a woman zip-lining in Roatan as part of a Norwegian Spirit cruise died when a cable snapped and she fell 65 feet.
Zip-lining has boomed in popularity in recent years, according to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. In the United States, the number of commercial zip lines soared from 10 in 2001 to 200 in 2012, not including thousands of amateur zip lines.
The researchers also found that this increase came with a rise in injuries related to zip-lining: About 16,850 nonfatal injuries related to zip-lining were treated in U.S. emergency rooms from 1997 through 2012. The most common types of injuries included broken bones, concussions, bruises and strains or sprains.
Samantha Schmidt is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix team.