(17 January 2004, Bristol, England) The Clifton Suspension Bridge, 250 feet
above the 700-foot-wide Avon Gorge, has attracted people with something to
prove ever since it was finished. In 1885 Sarah Ann Henley threw herself
from the bridge after an argument with a boyfriend, and was saved by her
parachute-like dress and cushiony crinoline petticoats. In 1957, a Flying
Officer of the RAF successfully flew a Vampire jet under the bridge at 450
mph. He briefly celebrated before he and his jet disintegrated on the
cliffs on the south side.
To prevent further incidents, rules were established prohibiting
under-flights, over-jumps, and other aberrant behavior. Bungee jumping is
specifically banned. Despite strict rules, the historic bridge attracts
many would-be Darwin candidates, such as James, 22, who violated the rules
and lived to tell the tale.
James walked onto the bridge, attached a lengthy bungee cord, and leapt
off. His plan was to set himself on fire, cut the cord, and drop into the
river below, quenching the flames. Unfortunately his knife was not up to
the task. The blazing man dangled over the river for 26 interminable
seconds, before he found a spare knife and severed the rope. At long last
he plunged into the river, which extinguished the flames, and swam off.
James was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary and later transferred to the
Burn Unit in the city. A spokesperson for the Dangerous Sports Club told
the BBC, "His heart is in the right place, but stunt men usually put on
flame-retardant suits." James himself told the BBC that it was a
thrill-seeking stunt that went horribly wrong. After that brief comment,
he demanded 1000 pounds for a full interview.
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Submitted by: Natalie
Reference: BBC News On-Line