A Russian man has died in a “zorbing” accident after the giant inflatable ball he and a friend were riding in fell off a cliff in southern Russia.
Denis Burakov, 27, died while he was on his way to the hospital due to spinal injuries. The other man, 33-year-old Vladimir Shcherbov, was hospitalized and after suffering severe injuries, including a concussion, reported state-run broadcaster RT.
Video footage uploaded to the Internet show the inflatable zorb ball, which is made from transparent plastic, rolling down the hill and off its intended path before falling into a ravine. The person who was supposed to stop the zorb ball at the bottom of the track could not reach it before it fell off the cliff.
Both men were at a ski resort in Dombay on Jan. 3 before they got into the inflatable ball, which cost them less than $10 for the trip, according to the state broadcaster.
The purveyors of the zorb ride are facing a police investigation and could get potentially six years in prison for providing services that don’t comply with Russian health and safety regulations, reported The Moscow News.
The operators of the ride fled the scene and police are now searching for them after issuing an arrest warrant. They apparently were operating the zorb without a license.
In the video, as the ball is rolling down the hill, one person asks: “What is down there?” according to RT. Another off-camera person replies: “A catastrophe.”
As the emergency rescue workers arrived to help the two men, both were still alive. Both had been thrown out of the giant inflatable ball after rolling for over a mile. Both were still able to walk when found in the snow, but Bukarov died while he was en route to the hospital.
Sergey Loginov, who is a supplier of zorbs in Russia, said that the fatal zorb accident violated safety rules. He said that each path requires a gradual slope with fences or nets to prevent the ball from going off-track.
Loginov told The Associated Press: “It’s not even irresponsibility. It’s an experiment on life. It’s all or nothing. They either survive or they don’t.”
Zorbs have been adopted by Russian officials as a symbol of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi.
“The transparency of zorbs also reflect the open, accessible and inclusive society that Sochi 2014 Games is helping to build,” organizing committee head Dmitry Chernyshenko said in 2010.
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