Gibbon Experience Accident Statement, April 3rd, 2017
On March 24th, 2017, a tragic accident at The Gibbon Experience has cost the life of an American citizen. We are heartbroken and have currently suspended all Gibbon Experience tours. Knowing that no words can reverse what happened, our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by this accident.
Our guest fell from a zipline 20 meters above the ground after both his strap and safety rope were severed by another zipline cable which was lifted into an abnormal position. The circumstances that lead to this tragedy are described in an accident report detailing the outcome of the investigations conducted by our team. A police report is currently being drafted.
After this first fatal accident, our team has been busy with investigations, technical considerations, religious ceremonies, and moral questioning. For several days, we have been weighing the question if the project should continue or not. Though our hearts are heavy, we have come to the decision to eventually go ahead. The Gibbon Experience was initiated in 1996, born from the wish of giving value to the Lao ancient forest so that local communities would benefit from committing themselves to its conservation. Since then, a National Park has been created, the protection and touristic exploration of which provides direct employment to 150 people. The project is also the main contributor to the province’s tourism sector. Giving it up would put these achievements at peril.
However, continuing is only possible under the condition of an analysis of the human and technical factors that have led to this accident, and subsequent changes within the project. Technical modifications such as the adaptation of cable design rules or the upgrade of safety and evacuation equipment and procedures are already being implemented.
Ongoing organizational changes will ensure better communication, more efficient response in case of an emergency situation, improved quality controls, more trainings, and stricter overall discipline. We are confident that this thorough revision at all levels will lead to improved safety and better service. The progress of the implementation of these measures will be visible in a new section of our website.
All we can do now is to give our best, and hope that the results of our efforts will allow people to regain confidence to continue visiting our forests to experience their beauty and contribute to their protection. We would like to thank to all those assisting, advising and supporting us in this endeavor.
Jef Reumaux, Managing Director
And the Gibbon Experience Team