Suspension Failures (And Not Just The Quick Link)

OK, some of you may be asking yourselves what the “other” traveling scarification guy is doing speaking up about suspensions and what happened in Florida over the weekend of August 16 and 17, 2008. Now, I’m not just some other modification-basher speaking ill of the whole subject. On the contrary, my immediate suspension family and I have dedicated a large part of our lives to the progression and advancement of the art of body suspensions, and to see something like this happen really makes my stomach drop.

The original article.

I am a veteran suspension practitioner with over a decade of practical hands-on suspension knowledge in a variety of settings: private; performance; large scale projects involving great heights with multiple people — including much of the suspension footage you have probably seen on TV on Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Discovery Channel, to helping hang one Criss Angel from a helicopter; and many private gallery and art shows. But, my main interest has always been in high tension, highly kinetic suspension that culminates with my pride and joy: the 360, though we’ll get to that later. My point is, after a decade of practical, hands-on experience with the subject, I have also recently stepped into the arena of educating newcomers on the subject and art of body suspensions, so I feel well qualified to speak on the topic.

After all this time, blood, sweat and tears my dear suspension family and I have dedicated to furthering this art, one thing we have learned is that accidents do happen. We will be the first to admit that. I have personally witnessed many mishaps occur over the 13 years I have been involved with suspensions. Some could have been avoided, some couldn’t have been — there is no accounting for what should always be the weakest link: the skin. There have even been two cases in which people were injured where I was personally involved and, one time, one of those people was me. It jacked my lower back up in a way that still plagues me today. That definitely changed my mind about things.

Both times something happened during a suspension, not only did we know the negative impact it would have on the community (and did all we could to halt and reverse it), we also did everything we could to inform others about what the problem was and why it happened, in order to try to prevent it from happening to others. Some of our family had already been hurt physically and there was no reason for others to suffer the same fate. We didn’t shy away from the public backlash that was bound to happen. We wanted to try to get others to see how dangerous it can be and that safety is the first thing we should all have on our minds. We, as the suspension leaders at the time, thought of the community and what the impact of our actions would be.

Rich falls during practice.

To me, it didn’t seem right to just blame the hardware company when it was our fault if the materials were used inappropriately. Using materials that cause a mechanical failure and injury to a member of your suspension family is not a way to run a suspension group, or a way to look after your friends, in my humble opinion. So, learning from our mistakes, we opted not to — ever again.

We owned up for our oversights. We all got together and wrote up something that illustrated differences in marketing and wording when buying the materials and equipment that will hold human life in the balance. We showed what gear to use, explained ratings and what to look for. We took pictures showing differences and ways to self-test things. We even had it posted to ModBlog as a way to inform others that accidents happen and, hopefully, ways to avoid them. When human life is at stake, leave nothing to chance!

Growing up in the suspension environment that I did with the people with whom I learned, I have always been one for pushing limits and taking suspensions further. I got this crazy idea in my head about a “rotisserie” one night during the now-legendary all-night IHOP TSD meetings, and TSD made it happen. Since that was pulled off without a hitch, I got the idea for the end-over-end version of a rotisserie, or a 360. With the help of Tom Moore, an engineering friend with much more smarts than I, it became a reality. High tension kinetic suspensions were a very new thing back then (and remain so, in my opinion). Not much work has been in done in that area of suspensions, and I think with those sorts of experimental suspension trials, there is more leeway in terms of public acceptance of mishaps when doing something that has never been before. If done in private, that is, and not as part of a show.

The incident I’m speaking of, and which many of you might remember, was during a private suspension group practice while attempting to conquer the now infamous 360 suspension rig during; the other mishap was with a friend, trying out some stuff for an upcoming show. Yes, we try things out before shows to ensure they will work the way we expect them to because, as we all know and as this incident shows, things don’t always happen like you want them to. The way I have always seen it is if you see a suspension group as a band, doesn’t it make sense to try out your sets and get them down before you play them in public? I think TSD, CoRE and MAYHEM were some of the only groups I have ever heard of even attempting to do this. I attribute this to why there has always been a huge difference in stage shows between a real suspension group and people who just hang others.

If things have been done before, there shouldn’t be any oversights other than sheer neglect on the part of the department head that allowed the mishap to occur. If the same sort of neglect happened in a private corporation, I’m sure someone would have to answer for their inadequacies. I don’t see this with the current situation in Florida.

We publicly admitted when Richard fell off the 360, even though we didn’t have to. We explained and showed with pictures why the turn buckle failed, and made it clear that there were oversights on our part. But the fact remains, we admitted it. We knew the eyes of the community were on us as high profile practitioners and the experts in the field — which not only shows it can happen to anyone, but also how such an incident should be dealt with. We knew our responsibility not only to our team member Richard, first and foremost by getting him medical care and taking him to the hospital, but we also knew we had an obligation to explain to the community that we were trying to better our techniques and make progress. We knew we had to put out the equivalent of a press letter showing photos (one advantage of filming your own stunts) of the equipment failing, with diagrams showing what happened and why. We put information out there and accepted responsibility for our actions. This is sorely lacking in the current situation in Florida. We could have kept it quiet, but that wouldn’t have done anyone any good and Richard’s pain and suffering would have been all for nothing if nobody had learned from these mistakes.

Ron and MAYHEM experimenting with the 360 spin-off.

I’ve heard suspensions compared to the danger of BMX riding or skateboarding recently. I don’t agree with this at all. The difference is that in those extreme activities, the people are controlling their own bailouts; they haven’t put their lives in someone else’s hands and expecting things to be OK. In that case, you control everything yourself.

I heard it said that Jimmy (the poor fellow to whom this unfortunate incident happened) knew quite well of the possibility of complications with what he was doing. “He knew the risks” has been passed around. I’m sure if this thinly veiled attempt at passing the blame to him was truthful and he was indeed told that the sub-par rigging might break and he could break his legs, he might not have gone for it.

There are a couple of questions that stand out in my mind:

- Why wasn’t there secondary rigging involved, especially when they are expecting extremely intense G-forces to be applied to those links?

- Why were Home Depot links used instead of rescue, safety, or climbing equipment? Those quick links used are not rated for such a working load. This lack of suspension prowess is what caused the mechanical failure over the weekend.

Speaking to Allen Falkner, another notable expert in the field of body suspensions, he had these thoughts on the situation:

Here are the scenarios I can think that might have caused the accident:

- Faulty link (Home Depot is not really known for quality).

- The monofilament line, being so thin, was concentrating the pressure onto a very small point, creating excessive stress. (It makes sense that the thin line was creating a stress point that the links aren’t designed to take.)

- The link turned sideways. If the link was being pulled from a direction other than that for which it’s designed, it could be more prone to failure. Especially if it flipped and the nut was against the hook eye.

Here are the problems I can see:

1. Use of Quick Links: I know we use them often for suspension, but they are designed for static loads, not dynamic. Plus, they are not intended for human weight. Yes, we use them incorrectly in basic suspension situations and although I think they are adequate for static loads, it now seems time to discontinue this practice.

2. Accessory Cord: It is definitely stronger than 550, but not really designed for shock loading. A larger rope or webbing would have been more suitable.

3. Dynamic Rigging: In a fall like that, static rigging would have been the best in case of single hook failure.

4. Hooks: Gilson hooks handle dramatically more weight. Plus, there was definitely a chance of him bouncing off open hooks.

5. Safety Harness: This one is self explanatory.

6. Monofilament Line: I am completely unaware of its properties and how it would affect rigging components.

On the shoulders of giants we stand. Collectively, we set the bar and standards for others to follow and live up to. I don’t see any actions coming from the teams involved with this worth following, or examples showing other fledgling groups how to deal with situations like this. It only has to happen once for anything to get outlawed or shut down. A perfect example of this can be seen by looking at pyrotechnics and the ’80s rock band Great White. They also had careless stage directors and stage managers who didn’t pay attention to stage specs for a safe and proper pyrotechnic show, and the entire auditorium caught fire, trapping and killing many people. This made authorities come down incredibly hard on all who use pyrotechnics here in the USA. This is a precedent that I would hate to see applied to any facets of our industry. All because someone didn’t care enough to pay attention to specs. A scarier thought to me is what if this crew had attempted another feat they were equally unqualified to perform, like a knee-to-back transition? That would be hard for anyone to survive from that height. What would we do then?

The truth is, I’m really scared of the repercussions and backlash that our community will face because of this “passing the buck” attitude I am seeing from the groups involved, with no one accepting responsibility for what happened. To me, responsibility to your friends and group go far deeper than taking them to the hospital and telling everyone to wish them well online. Responsibility means accepting consequences for you actions and attempting to make up for them. I would think they would try to educate and show others how to prevent this from happening again so others don’t get hurt — not shifting the focus to your ailing friend in the hospital, trying to taking the attention off what you caused to happen with your oversights. But I’m old — maybe ethics and morals are a dying personal trait in this industry. (Did I really say that? Me? Moral? Wow, I must be getting old.) But a quick look at the group leader’s MySpace page and following his links to what he finds important to promote about himself, I get a better idea of the ethical morality of this person. I begin understand why they aren’t speaking up about what actually happened, and disseminating rumors about it all so we are forced to make our own assumptions about what truly happened. This is not the way professionals handle things.

YouTube video of the Florida incident.

For the record, I do not know Skin Mechanic or the guys involved with this. I know they were closely associated with some people making and selling hooks to our community, but I don’t think that endeavor will take off after this latest mishap, especially if it is true that the maker of a locking hook wasn’t using them for such a dynamic suspension. That would also speak volumes about their understanding of the act of body suspension and what happens during a dynamic suspension. It’s obvious some people don’t understand it — hell, I don’t get it all when G-forces come into play with dynamic or static rigging, but we at least overcompensate for that. Here’s something from rock-solid rigger Emrys Yetz, explaining how it works:

First, my thoughts go out to Jimmy Pinango for a quick and healthy recovery from the accident. Hope you’re doing well and are with the ones you love.

The accident that recently happened at the Deerfield Beach Tattoo Convention wasn’t due to equipment failure via manufacturer — it was a result of the equipment being used past its Working Load Limit. In order to understand what I’m going to explain, let’s first define Working Load Limit: “The maximum mass or force with which the product is authorized to support in a particular service.” The industry standard in the United States for chain and/or quick links is a 5 to 1 Design Factor, this meaning you take the Maximum Breaking Strength and divide it by 5 giving you your Working Load Limit. The 3/16” Galvanized Quick Link in question that failed had a Maximum Breaking Strength of 660 pounds, meaning its Working Load Limit is 132lbs (via 660 pounds divided by 5). Jimmy Pinango was suspended from six hooks, meaning six Quick Links with a total Working Load Limit of 792 pounds. Now, had he done a static suspension without any free fall, this would have been adequate, since he weighs 300 pounds.

By adding the bungee, you need to take into account that the static weight of 300 pounds no longer applies, because he is going into a free fall. At this point, you are talking about G-force, or the acceleration imparted by natural gravity. In order to calculate the amount of force applied to the Quick Links, you have to multiply the mass or Jimmy P’s weight of 300 pounds by the G-force or 32.174 feet/per second per second. In doing so, you come up with a Force equal to 1333.7044 newtons, which converts to 983.68988 pounds.

So, let’s look back to the Working Load Limit of 792 pounds that we calculated for the six Quick Links in use before, and we can see there were 983.68988 pounds of force being applied, which surpasses the Working Load Limit overall by 191.68988 pounds and by 31.94831 pounds per Quick Link.

I am speaking as a long-time suspension enthusiast and pioneer who sees this latest act of negligence as a sign of what’s to come, now that Pandora’s Box has been opened and anyone can pick up equipment anywhere. Except, often, they’re only copying what they see without real practical knowledge of research and development done anymore, like we used to do in the “good old days.” Nowadays, it’s all about copying what you see and trying to make a name for yourself with whatever claim to fame you can make — from the most piercings, to the most suspension positions, to eyelid microdermals. Don’t misunderstand me, I have always been one who highly respects outside-the-box thinking (hell, that’s how I got where I am), but these are things I don’t place in that category at all. It is things like this that will lead to the over-regulation of our industry into the ground.

We, the suspension community as whole, got lucky that Jimmy wasn’t injured worse than he was, and our hearts go out to him. But, I don’t think the suspension industry will be able to recover from this very quickly. What I want people to get out of this is, yes, the act of body suspensions has inherent dangers, but we shouldn’t leave anything to chance, especially when lives are at risk. I also wish people would accept responsibility for their actions.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. Don’t put the blame on mechanical failure when it’s your fault the equipment was used in the first place. This sort of thinking neglects to see the big picture: This affects all of us. This should not be done just you so you can get pictures for your portfolio, get your name on TV or to make your sponsors happy.

The words of Social Disortion come to mind:

“Don’t forget that they’re your future …”

And that scares the shit out of me.

(Ed. note: This is an editorial and does not necessarily reflect the views of BME staff or BME as a publication. For Joe Amato’s response, click here.)

Please consider buying a membership to BME so we can continue bringing you articles like this one.

81 thoughts on “Suspension Failures (And Not Just The Quick Link)

  1. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » ModBlog » New Article Posted!

  2. Watch out Ron- people will start sending messages behind your back saying you’re against suspension and out to get the people who do them. Trust me.

    Otherwise- well done old man.

  3. Are suspension teams working with rock climbing equipment? Because the way I see it that would be the best kind of equipment to use in that kind of situation… I do rock climbing and the quantity of stress applied to the equipment in this video is probably smaller than what climbing equipment will take during a fall, even if the guy weights 300 pounds… Just taking a look at the pictures seeing the size of the ropes that are used I think it’s scary… You’re playing with peoples health, there’s no overdoing it…

  4. Too bad there weren’t foot long sharp SS spikes below him — that would have made it more “suspense”ful.

  5. Another interesting article! It is so nice to see articles that providing constructive criticism for this community.

  6. Another interesting article! It is so nice to see articles that are providing constructive criticism for this community.

  7. That poor chap, though it is easy to understand after reading this very informative article as to why it happed. As a community we should band together to stop this sort of mess happening- we need to understand before we do, and be seen to look down on foolish actions.

  8. Holy shit, best article I’ve read in a long long time. No name-calling or outing of specific members of the community, just a well-structured and thoroughly thought out (especially with the inserts by Allen and Emryz) piece. Kudos to Ron!

  9. Thank you for this. I’ve always hated the quick links and have been considering getting rid of them in our suspensions. Needless to say, it’s done. You have given us a lot to think about from a safety stand point, and we will certainly be discussing asap before our next performance.

    MatLax, I can’t speak for other groups, but we do use climbing equipment and rope. 550 parachute cord just didn’t seem strong enough to us (especially when it comes to some of the bigger guys I’ve worked with) so we went shopping at the local mountain climbing shop.

    I hope that this doesn’t negatively affect the suspension community too much. I also hope that it opens a dialog within the community

  10. you know the first thing i thought was that maybe ppl were overreacting, but when i watched the video, all i could think was, “oh damn, this can’t end well.”

    i hope that guy is okay, and that ppl really try to learn from this incident.i mean, for crying out loud he could’ve died because of that group’s neglect.

  11. I would like to see those involved work with those within the suspension community to deconstruct this incident so’s to avoid a repeat instead of going on the defensive.

  12. jeez, you’d think that people doing that sort of suspension (especially on a man with such a large… girth) would over compensate, or at least take physics into account.

    and Henry: I had that same gut wrenching feeling the whole time. Also, it really made me gasp and then cringe a bit when he fell.

  13. So many things went wrong from the start. everything can hold at least 3 times the weight it will actually have to.that was the way i learned. what about a safety line? where the hell was that? Hopefully the media-or OSHA-doesn’t get a hold of this and all of us gets screwed. i can see the headlines and aftermath now. next thing you know we cant do it

  14. i am very, very happy that articles like this are part of bmezine. I wasn’t aware of what had happened in florida, so thanks for keeping me in the loop, in my community. Good piece,

  15. Ron, i highly respect your opinion as i am sure you know. allen, emerys, i have also worked with you in the past and mean no disrespect by posting this.
    Agreed on a well written article, I do not agree with this article helping at all. This is drawing more attention to the incident than needs to be. Instead of pointing fingers, or being “disgusted” by this unfortunate event, what should have happened from the get go is “ok, sweet. this sucks. lets see how we can fix it so this never happens again” not posting this all over(sorry two places) the internet.
    Again, i highly respect everyone who wrote/or contributed to writing this article, but don’t really agree with the way it is portrayed to the two individuals who had the misfortune of this happing to them.

  16. Dallas: You’re missing the point.

    The article is drawing attention to it because as a community we need to be pro-active about incidents such as this. If this wasn’t written I’d know nothing about it.
    There is no fingerpointing of blaming here, simply an observation that these days thorough education is sorely lacking within many sus groups, and people need to be far more grounded to the seriousness of what we do.

    “This sucks, lets make sure it never happens again.” and the negative impact on suspension as a whole are two completely different things.

    Steps can instantly be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and thats as simple as using the correct and proper equipment.

    The negative publicity the suspension community will cop because of this is something that in no way can easily be recovered from.

  17. im glad someone decided to write a deliberate, well thought out article on this incident. i was a the convention that day but i left just before this occurred…naturally i heard all about it when i went back on sunday, and it was hard to decipher what was going on.

    in the past few days ive stumbled upon ALOT of people on iam/myspace/youtube/etc who feel the need to 100% bash Skin Mechanics and do alot of name calling and accusations. this article was a refreshing thing to read in comparison.

    all in all this was a well written article and im sure i speak for most of us when i say thank you for concisely outlining the issues without bad mouthing SM or anyone involved.

  18. Well written Ron. After some wonderful suspension work about ten years ago I left the scene entirely. I still appreciate a clean natural suspension but the commercialization is killing it.

    One should not make money off of something that can be so important.

  19. It is disgusting that anyone would compromise another’s safety by using substandard parts.

    If you don’t understand exactly what the implication of the physics of a situation is you need to ask someone who does. There’s lots of engineers and applied physicists out there, all you have to do is reach out and ask. Stop being such a goddam rock star, be a professional and get a specialist to work for you.

    Just because it’s bleeding edge does not mean that it must be pursued in a reckless manner.

  20. Ron, THANK YOU, what an important statement you’ve made here. Of course, it would seem that instead of learning from this article and having any accountability about the incident, the group leader has responded to your linking to his Myspace page by making it private. :/

  21. Ron very well written *nods*

    I also saw on IAM: turtle page where he broke things down in a more physics/mathematical equations as to why it all failed a bit more precisely.

  22. 25 Lori: his myspace page was on private in the first place as far as i know..i added him a few weeks ago and it was private then too. thats completely unrelated to the situation.

  23. @ 25 Nope – the privacy is a new thing. Up until earlier today I was checking on it to see if he added to the blog entry or anything but now it is set private and I cannot view it any longer. Could be a coincidence but given the circumstances that seems unlikely

  24. Ron- Really well written and well thought out article. Thank you for having the initiative to address this issue. I think you brought up some really good points that I hope inspire people to raise the bar in regards to safety. My thoughts go out to the guy that got injured and hope he has a speedy recovery.

  25. Great article by a very qualified commentator. I especially liked:

    “(Ed. note: This is an editorial and does not necessarily reflect the views of BME staff or BME as a publication.)”

    No, certainly not, since Roo just posted an entry with one of the all-time worst hook placements featured on BME and seemed to congratulate them on it. I appreciate the humor in that.

  26. Very well written Ron. Kudos to reading articles full of common sense and old wisdom.
    That said, I must say the choice of image to go with this article is really an awful thing to slap on the front page. Why not draw in a little more negative attention while we are at it?

  27. The pure body language from that video really said it all.

    Even if you had no pre-concieved notions of how Suspensions are to be done in a safe and controlled enviornment, being in this field for the last 15 years, that whole fiasco felt wrong from the beginning. That’s the thing that frightens me the most about all of this. The look on his face, the body language he was giving off showed he was uncomfortable. It showed fear. Something in my gut, like someone else said, knew before he even went up on that rig, something horrible was going to happen. I read the article After I watched the video.

    It just scares me. This whole “One-Up” Scenario playing within the body modification community. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but changing, evolving, being different, being who you are was more important, has always been more important then being the proverbial First, or Most, or Best, or Biggest.

    And I know alot of people are thinking it, but not to many are open enough to say it out loud, common sense would say a fella that large shouldn’t be dangling from nuffin unless it’s a life or death situation, know what I mean?

  28. I wasn’t around when TSD was making great progress in the field of suspensions. And I will admit that about five years ago or so we were making racks out of hardware parts and even using Home Depot quick links. That didn’t last long for us as a group (at the time I was one of the founders of Well Hung in Pasadena, CA) because we saw minor failure with quick links on a semi frequent basis. Not harmful to the person suspending, but the quicklinks would sometimes bend a miniscule amount, enough to require serious tools to re-open them if someone decided they wanted to. We also learned that climbing cordelette was a much safer way to go than hardware utility cords, para-cord or the like. But we were lucky to have someone knowledgable in climbing and rigging that was designed to support human weight, otherwise it may have taken a lot longer to learn our lessons or know where to look for appropriate materials.

    For this reason alone I thank Ron for voicing his concerns and writing the article. We’ve been talking for years in the roundtables at APP, in congregations of suspension enthusiasts, etc. how important it is to get the word out and pass down the information. So despite the fact that this article may bring added publicity to the mishap, the accident itself brings the needed moment and exposure to validate the concerns of inappropriate gear and rigging.

    I’ve had my own mishaps, including a bolt hanger that fell out of what I thought was a ceiling joist. Depsite many years of construction experience, despite using appropriate equipment, my own human error mis identified what was actually just a latheboard nailer. So while it’s true there is always a potential for error (we are dealing with human skin) it is very important that anyone doing this minimizes the risks by familiarizing and informing themselves with the information to limit the possibility of something happening.

    Thanks again Ron, Allen, and Emrys for making the importance of the situation known in laymen’s terms. I hope everyone reading this article takes the information in, especially if they are contemplating suspending in the future.

    -Brett Perkins
    Ephemme Suspension Performance (ESP)

  29. Thank you for writing this article. I live in south Florida and I have heard SO much about this situation, and you are exactly right. No one want to cowboy up and admit a mistake. Rather, the man responsible for the rigging, when called out on that point resorts to throwing guilt, and wondering why his confronter isn’t concerned for the injured man, and only wants to poke blame. It is a sad state of affairs when someone who takes peoples lives in his hands so frequently does not want to learn from a mistake and educate the public on safe suspensions. It is absolutely true that this event could effect the entire body modification community in terms of legality, especially in Florida, where so few modification practices are actually legal.

  30. As to the medical bills, I feel for him but it needs to be said that performing stunts without insurance is just plain irresponsible. Attempting this sort of thing under the best of circumstances (which this clearly wasn’t) would have the pre-requisite of both personal insurance and insurance for the performance – what if he had somehow landed on an audience member or a piece of the rigging coming apart hit a spectator and hurt them. Poorly executed suspensions as performances threaten us all not just those doing them.

    Having said that, I will say here something I already brought up in another forum which is that I am guessing he didn’t sign a waiver of any kind to the people who put him up and are responsible for his fall with the improper (potentially legally negligent) rigging. This along with whether or not he was specifically contracted for the performance leave open a number of possible lawsuits with a lot of liability to go around.

    I am not saying he should sue anyone but I see the potential case(s) as there and very strong.

    If anyone can help him out – that’s great but a specific group of people leap to mind that should falling over themselves to help with the bills as the least they could do given how and why he fell.

  31. Wow
    this just set back suspensions in Fl by @ least 5 years
    Freedom Suspension Group
    tampa bay fl

    whats next some one going to kill some one with a microdermal ..
    So the state can ban thows 2..

  32. Ron, I am proud to say that I have worked with, and learned from you, and Allen, thank you both for saying what needed to be said.

  33. I agree with that completely. While I also feel for him and his family as I’m sure the medical bills will be very high, it is a performers responsibility to look out for themselves. It is important to know how to cover yourself in the unfortunate event of an accident.

  34. Ron, great article! I’m happy to see that all your hard work has come to fruition and that this has been posted publicly. I agree completely that this needs to be brought to the community’s attention and that we need to follow through in order to prevent history from repeating.

    35 – HappyHooker – Not sure how you figure that the hook placement for the single point chest is so terrible. It is through plenty of tissue, it’s settled into the bite of the hook though. It was as comfortable for him as any other spot on his chest was for a single point suspension. But that’s a discussion for a different post.

  35. a specific group of people leap to mind that should falling over themselves to help with the bills as the least they could do given how and why he fell.


    Reading that ‘the poor guy and his mother’ are footing the medical bills has made me feel so annoyed. In fact, this whole situation has riled me, moreso the way the suspension team in question have gone to ground and are seemingly unwilling to engage the suspension community on any level in order to break down events thus preventing a repeat of this avoidable accident. If they cannot take responsibility for their actions then they should be kept away from hooks, full stop, before they not only do damage to some other unfortunate individual who hapens to put their trust in them, but the suspension community as a whole.

  36. The individuals and their suspension groups involved with the unfortunate event that took place in Florida are trained practitioners of suspension, and they are part of this suspension community. I do not find any justice in speaking about them as if they do not know what they are doing. Instead, we need to look at this as an accident and find out what really went wrong. Everyone has an opinion, to include myself, but there is only one person who will really know where a mistake was made, and that is the person who rigged him.

    Accidents and mistakes happen. Ron and I both have made mistakes in the past. I’ve seen Ron blow off mistakes as if nothing was wrong because “nothing happened”. This time something did happen . . .

    Rather than acting like I know everything that took place that evening, I’ve chosen instead to be a part of this community and support them. I’ve worked with both groups involved and we even had CoRE personnel there with them.

    I’ve spoken to everyone involved so extensively that I’m tired of talking about it. There has been as much talk about the community bashing them as there has been about the actual incident.

    I see it as an unfortunate error that the groups involved did not put out a statement that said: a mistake has been made, someone got hurt, let us take care of our family and ourselves, and let us research what happened. Instead, they put out a statement stating that there was a problem and reminding us that we play in dangerous territory. They then posted pictures of the quicklink that failed without saying anything about the human errors that might have played a part. The reason why the latter was not included is because it is still an unknown in their eyes. They are researching it and plan to release a diagram and statement of what/how they think the mistake happened.

    I agree with what they have stated thus far, because we do all need to remember that suspensions exist in dangerous territory. I believe that someday, someone will die doing suspensions because of the boundaries that we push as a community. A great percentage of us doing suspensions are in competition with each other or ourselves.

    However, is it a grave issue that an effort was not made to make the whole community feel better about what happened by the next morning? In my opinion, it isn’t. I understand how a traumatic situation can shake your emotions and hinder you from making the best decision.

    By the time something was said, the community was there to bash them, not support them. How would that make you react? Most of us would need what they needed: a little space to take care of their own groups and their emotions, and a little space to look objectively at the problem, do the research, and let us know what happened. The gravest issue here is that our community did not give them the space to do anything but defend themselves and their comrades.

    I still would like to know what really happened, how the suspension was rigged, where the weight was distributed, etc. The suspension done was not a typical suspension. It was designed in order for the individual to break away one hook at a time using a monofilament line, lowering him down a few feet at a time. I saw this done in person in July (not from the same height or the same number of hooks) and I still do not understand how or why the rigging was done dynamically this time. Now, I too will wait to read and see the report/diagram that is coming to explain why they think things went wrong.

    The ‘YouTube’ videos do not provide me, or anyone else, with enough information to sit down and write a letter mapping out what someone else did; I’ve chosen to give the groups involved a little room and help them as much as I can with information so that we can all figure out where the human error was.

    I strongly agree with what Erik wrote about insurance and release forms, but I think he presented it here as if it is standard practice within the community. It is not! Even Ron doesn’t have performance insurance or use release forms when providing suspensions. I’ve been preaching this for years. We need documentation for everything. Unfortunately, it took someone getting hurt to shine a strong light on this subject.

    Please stop putting down people that you do not know within the community and trying to drag their image to the ground. If Allen, Ron, Emrys, or even myself had this situation befall us, we would have been supported from the start because people are used to hearing about us and assume we know what we are doing. These groups are trained and made a bad decision somewhere and someone got hurt because of it. This should make us all stronger. This should make us all come together in support of our community so that all of us can walk away with the knowledge of consequences. I hope it will make us all think twice before trying to do that death-defying suspension that will, someday, fail.

  37. Well written and with good points Steve.

    However, it seems that one of your main points is about how the community is reacting and the reaction is almost wholly dependent upon the groups initial actions. If they had immediately come forward and said ‘help us figure it out and make sure it doesn’t happen again’ the reaction would have been far different. Complaints about the criticism (which while harshly worded at times has been mostly contructive) should start with their reaction to the accident and not coming forward quickly and openly with all relevant information. If there is a lack of support evident here, it appears to me that it was something they brought on themselves – and that said, there are still many people waiting to help them if they would just put the cards on the table as it were. The community was not waiting to bash them but when they didn’t come forward with the expected and probably proper mea culpa it triggered some backlash

    As for the insurance – I didn’t mean to imply it was standard at all. I was just pointing out the glaring liability and the chain of responsibility for handling the costs of this accident

  38. yeah….whatever….they just plain ‘ol fucked up…..and it must have really sucked hitting the ground 6 feet from a pool! I don’t think anyone cares about a diagram of what happened. I don’t think the dude with the broken bones will feel better after he sees a diagram and an explanation. I guess it’s just a good thing he didn’t land on his head, or he’d be dead. What if that HAD happened (and yeah, I know, there are plenty of “what ifs”). I just think it’s all a bad idea from the get go. I’m glad all I need is some good sleep, and my sanity, to feel cool….cause you can argue all ya want, but that’s all it’s really about….

  39. Good article! I also appreciate the input from Steve, Allen and Erik (if I missed anyone sorry). I believe there are repercussions happening already. I had a private suspension cancel soon after the accident. I think it scared a lot of people.

  40. It’s tempting to rant a bunch, but I’ll try to keep it short.
    Thanks Ron, for adressing the accident with your article!
    I must say it was very nice -after reading all the posts, to read Steve’s entry. I was feeling and thinking very negative about the people responsible for the unfortunate incident at hand, but what do I know about them? Not much.
    I still think there was a very basic lack of safety in this suspension, and that critisism is due, but Steve’s right; accidents can and will happen to any of us. The most important thing now is not to drag anyone down (they just fell), but to make sure all of us learn from this incident and that we stand toghether in furthering the education in our field.
    We must do what we can to avoid mishaps and accidents!

    Let’s hope those involved will come out and explain what happened and stand for what they did.
    And let’s stress the safety issues when we practise and teach suspension. I like this phrase from the Suspension School Manual:

    “The act of suspension is dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone that does not fully understand the risks involved”

  41. I wish all had the experience strength and wisdom Steve carries…..much respect

  42. es una lastima que cada vez se ensucie mas cosas tan bellas como son los rituales de suspension…

    a veces el experimentar cosas que pretenden entretener gente en forma masiva hacen daño a quienes disfrutamos y somos felices con rituales en privado…



  43. Ron, First of all very well said.. easy explained but from the heart of a true lover of the art…
    I think the main point is how are people outside of this community respond to this.. I think most of us now what the dangers are and how they can be avoided….
    When i was telling the guys in the shop about the accident even the tattoo artist said that it was probably to blame in the equiptment and although that might not be the complete resone for it, my feeling is that it had a LOT to do with it.. I hope people outside the community are not going to over-re-act on this.. Like many of us (i’m sure) my only wish is to hope that if someone she’s a show or a demonstration of our (fleshfactory – ilya) hand that their intreiged and want to learn more.. or at least accept it instead of the hate-comments..
    I hope that all the people outside the comunnity arn’t going to shout ‘U SEE IT’S DANGEROUS’ or other comments like those… because although it’s not save… with the right equiptment and good watching eyes it’s not THAT dangerous (u know what i mean ;)

  44. FUCK YES!! THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart Joe.
    NOW we can study what happened and get more information out there so nothing like this happens to others. That was a great and well written response.
    That clears up so much and does say alot.
    Seriously, Thank you

  45. Hey all,

    I’ve removed Joe’s comment from the forum here — it will be published as a proper article on BME in the next day or two. He’s not being censored or anything of the sort, we just want it to be seen by as many people as possible and not have different versions floating around.

  46. so instead of leaving it at the end of a comment forum that it’s a direct response to – you delete it from here to make it a ‘proper article on BME’? – that’s the stupidest thing I’ve read on here in a long time – and that’s saying a lot. If you want as many people to read it as possible – leave it here (where it’s IN context) and use it as a ‘proper article’ whenever you want. Then it’s here, where it naturally belongs and makes sense – and you can use it to try to get more people to read BME news articles.

  47. I do not think that moving Joe’s statement is a stupid idea – although this article did contribute to a great deal of negativity, the issue at hand has relevance beyond this article. Joe’s statement should not be limited to the comments section of another article. This is a serious issue, and both sides deserve to be presented equally.

    However, Jordan would you be so kind as to place a link here so that we might be able to locate the article from here?

  48. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » Lead Story » An Open Letter to the Suspension Community

  49. hahahahahaha adored him happened……

    ron garza is not and it was never anything….just one more burning the art…..

    I think he should be embarrassed and to disappear of the earth…or to hide in some tribe rsrsrsrsrsrsrsrsrsrsrs
    one more reviling our art

  50. and you are still trying to discuss what happened……hahahahahahahahahahah you are all hypocrites…..assume the truth that the man made shit and and a terrible professional

  51. One thing I didn’t see mentioned:

    I have in the past worked in industrial rope access and though my qualifications in the field how now lapsed, we were taught that in a dynamic loading scenario, quick links of any kind are not used.

    The reason is that under dynamic/shock loading there is the possibilty that the quick link will “flick” open. This drastically reduces the tensile strength of the link, often at the point where the most dynamic force is being applied to it.

    As such, it might be worth crews considering the use of screw gate links/carabiners when dynamic rigs such as bungee rigs are used.

  52. Much of what we do in life is associated with risk, be it smoking, driving, having unprotected sex, & suspensions. Part of the crowd turn on is the fact that someone may well get hurt – motor racing is a point in question. What I see here is not the nuts and bolts of the situation, it was a high stress performance related incident, with the relatively higher risk factor, but rather the lack of acceptance by many of the practitioners that there is a genuine risk of someone getting hurt. When it does happen there is this big ‘shock and awe’ scenario which is vaguely naive. It takes things like this to promote evolution in all risky endeavors be it a space launch or an advance in the mod world. There have been many mistakes on the rocky path of achieving the standards we now have in Body Modification, and sadly this is just one more. From what I can see, this stunt was one more step onto the cutting edge of performances and one more step into danger. Just let us learn from it!

  53. I believe that any professional of any area these subject to errors.
    We are human.
    I believe that now in a next occasion this will not go to happen again itself.

  54. I can has safeti lienz, plz?

    Ugh. This was soooo avoidable, and that’s what irritates the shit out of me.

  55. Pingback: Recent Links Tagged With "risk" - JabberTags

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>