When cliff jumping goes wrong: Diver Hits Head Off Cliff During Triple Somersault

When cliff jumping goes wrong

Heart-stopping footage captured the dramatic moment a cliff diver somehow escaped with his life after smashing into the protruding rock and landing on a log while performing a forward flip.

Daredevil Shane Brown was lucky to avoid paralyzing himself after his back hit the hidden tree trunk when he jumped at Kapena Falls in Hawaii, breaking 14 of his ribs and both his shoulder blades.

The 24-year-old was attempting a triple gainer – a jump facing forwards, into a back somersault, landing in the water feet first – when disaster struck.

On his first rotation, Shane, from Honolulu, Hawaii, clipped the crown of his head on the hard rock causing him to release his tuck position.

Unable to right himself in time, his whole back slaps the pool below, landing directly on a submerged log.

For a good 30 seconds after the impact, the mechanical engineering student doesn’t rise to the surface.

Fearing the worst, one of his friends jumps in and pulls his head clear of the water while swimming backwards.

Three months after being rushed to Queens Hospital in Honolulu, Shane has almost fully recovered and has started swimming again.

He said: ‘Doctors told me I’m very lucky not to be paralysed and I’m thankful for that.

‘Most of my existence revolves around outdoor activity and I would be devastated to have that taken away.

‘I remember very few things from the incident, only single glimpses until I was in the hospital.

‘I recall clipping my head, being on the surface of the water having a hard time breathing, looking my friend in the eye as he pulled me to safety.

‘Then I remember being put in the stretcher they used to get me up the side of the hill, the ceiling of the ambulance.

‘Finally I was coherent when I asked my friend if I made the triple and if my camera was ok while they put staple in my head in the hospital.’

Having already successfully practiced a single gainer, Shane decided to film his attempt at the technically difficult triple.


He had to endure two surgeries after breaking his L1 vertebrae, 14 ribs, both shoulder blades and shattering his right shoulder socket.

He added: ‘It wasn’t until I was in the hospital I realized how bad the fall was.

‘A lot of people have commented saying that it took my friends too long to help.

‘I know I was under the surface for 30 seconds and it took my friend 45 seconds to secure the cameras and enter the water, while my other friend called 911 for emergency help.

‘When cliff diving, you can’t jump in on top of someone, because if you hit them it would be as bad as the injuries I got from hitting the log.

‘They couldn’t see me until I finally rose from the water, and because I free dive frequently, they knew I could hold my breath for a long time.

‘I think how they responded saved me from further injury or death.’


Shane was bedridden for two weeks following his operations before his mum and aunt rented a house in Portlock, Hawaii, to help his recovery.

He said: ‘The only pain I remember is when being transferred from one hospital bed to the platform used for the MRI machine.

‘My back twisted very slightly and I experienced the sharpest pain I have ever felt.

‘I screamed in agony, after laughing just minutes before about staples being put in my head.

‘My mum and aunt made amazing food, got me ice packs in the middle of the night, helped me ween off the pain killers and made smoothies whenever I wanted.’

Through some intense TLC and physical therapy – which continues twice a week – Shane has nearly fully recovered.

He said: ‘I know I still have a long road to recovery.

‘I can swim at about 80 per cent efficiency, but I can’t quite lift my right arm straight above my head, which is important for diving.

‘I still can’t do pull-ups and have also been timid to try a standing backflip, which used to be a staple in the arsenal of cool stuff I could do.

‘It’s tough for me to accept just having a functional body that can do regular stuff, like house work and occupational work, when my body used to be able to do all these amazing exceptional things.’

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