Now that humans are addicted to getting likes on their social media postings, many are challenging themselves to go to Instagram-worthy spots. And with that, there's the regular stream of stories about tourists dying as they fall while taking selfies and other photos. The NY Times looks at one dangerous beauty upstate, Kaaterskill Falls, noting that "the last four people who died at Kaaterskill Falls were either taking or posing for pictures."
The Catskills destination, which inspired Hudson River School painters, is a hot spot with its 260-foot waterfall—the tallest in the state—which is broken up by tiers. Over the years, the area has gotten more than $1 million in improvements (protective fences, new 200-step stone stairs, overlook platforms) after fatal falls. Like NJ resident Ezra Kennedy, 17, who lost his footing "as he approached the edge of the falls and fell between 50 and 60 feet to the rocks below," according to the Daily Freeman.
State park ranger Robert Dawson blamed the tragedies on social media, telling the Times, "Just talking to people who come up here, they say, ‘Yeah, we saw this on the internet — we’re trying to find it.' The unfortunate thing is, with those pictures, there’s nothing informing people that you could get seriously hurt here, too."
In an interview with News 10, DEC Regional Director Keith Goertz said, "People are always trying to getting a good view of the falls and sometimes they're finding locations that just aren't safe to stand on."
Another emerging spot for selfies is Breakneck Ridge: Hank Osborn of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference told the Times, "Breakneck is a magnet for new hikers. It’s one of the places that is getting a lot of attention from hikers who are seeking out a destination from New York City. It’s what they’re learning about online and through social media."
A 25-year-old hiker died at Breakneck Ridge in May.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in India analyzed 127 "selfie" deaths between March 2014 and September 2016 and, according to MIT Technology Review, found "the most common cause of death was falling from a height. This reflects the penchant for people taking selfies at the edge of cliffs, at the top of tall structures, and so on. Water also accounts for a large number of deaths. And a significant number involve water and heights—things like jumping into the sea from a height and so on.
Dawson, the park ranger, urged people to pay attention to the rocks, saying, "It's like get the hint, it's slippery, you're going to fall, don't do it."