As he hurtled towards the water at 80mph on a bungee jump, Rishi Baveja anxiously awaited the moment when the elastic cord snapped him back aloft. It never came. The harness around his feet worked free and he continued accelerating until he hit the surface of a Thai lagoon.
Fortunately he managed to take the full force of the impact on his chest, escaping catastrophic head injuries. But the Cambridge graduate still suffered a ruptured spleen, torn liver, collapsed lungs and massive bruising. Surgeons, who likened his injuries to those of a car crash victim, had to remove the spleen and he spent a month in a Bangkok hospital before he was well enough to return to his home near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
‘All the doctors were staggered that I lived,’ he said. ‘I’m very lucky. If I had landed head first I would be brain damaged or dead.’ Mr Baveja, whose father Amarjeet is a GP, was in Phuket on a month-long holiday to celebrate gaining a 2.2 degree in engineering. He paid £50 to make the jump at the Jungle Bungy centre in Kathu. A crane took him to a 165ft platform where a harness was placed around his feet and fastened to a bungee cord with several wraps of material.
A video of the jump records his yelp of fear just before he hits the water, while an instructor appears to say ‘Oh’, as the realisation of what is happening dawns on him. Mr Baveja said it was not clear how the harness was able to work loose and he would not be suing the operators because he feels there is little prospect of success. ‘I knew the jump would be scary but I didn’t think it was dangerous. I had a long phone conversation with my mum telling her it was safe.
‘She only believed me when I told her that the website of the jump centre claimed it had a 100 per cent safety record. It still says that. I didn’t need to do that jump. I wish I hadn’t.’ Mr Baveja’s parents flew out to his bedside when they were told of the accident. Despite losing his spleen he hopes to return to full health – and has not been put off extreme sports. He plans to go skydiving when he has recovered.
Well at least it wasn’t in Zambia! I like the bit where he says if he’d hit the water head first he would have been ‘brain damaged’ mmmmm…..yes!
The picture? Not Baveja – Kwameh Anyona doing a safe one at Vic Falls! He stayed in accommodation provided at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone. In my years in Livingstone there has never been a bungee accident!