A co-owner of a fitness gym in Sydney, Australia, died Tuesday while tubing in the Laotian town of Vang Vieng, where foreign backpackers slide from a zip line and then jump into a river.
Lee Hudswell, 26, of Cronulla, landed badly in the water when he tried the stunt also known as the flying fox at 4 p.m. A report by the Daily Telegraph said locals and tourists tried to resuscitate him but failed. He was then brought to the Vang Vieng hospital, where he died at 6 p.m.
New Zealander Brad Haigh, who saw the accident, said there was no first aid on the river and no one knew what to do, according to The Canberra Times.
"He was taken to hospital in a tuk tuk. It was shocking. Last year, 22 people died here in the river," Haigh told the newspaper based in Australia.
The tuk tuk is a motorcycle-powered passenger cab.
The family of Hudswell, who runs the Body Conscious Fitness with business partner Lyndon Kleeman, has been informed of his death and is being assisted by consular officials from Laos and Australia to bring home his remains.
Doing the flying fox in Vang Vieng is dangerous, according to a video in Lonelyplanet.tv. The stunt had caused injuries as shown here: http://www.lonelyplanet.tv/Clip.aspx?key=98810083B6215EE1.
In September 2009, a newlywed from Ireland who went tubing in Vang Vieng together with his wife and 17 other tourists, drowned when he was swept away by the strong currents of the river. Locals were able to rescue the others but not him.
In tubing, one uses a tyre interior to float on the water. A giant water slide is another adventure option in Vang Vieng.
Hudswell's death is a reminder that the stunt should be tried with extreme caution.
Worldnomads.com advises backpackers holidaying in Vang Vieng on how to safely do the tubing, sliding or flying fox, which is offered by some riverside bars to its drinking customers for free. Number one in the list is to not do it when drunk or drugged.
Bars in Vang Vieng offer free backyard-made whisky to patrons. One may survive the plunge in the river but the bootleg drink may still harm the body.
For those who are already drunk, friends and companions should look after them.
During the rainy season, when the river water flows strongly, tubing should be avoided.
Put on a lifejacket to avoid drowning.
A helpful addition is to bring your own first-aid kit in case of injury as there is no clinic in the area. Treatment of any broken bone or wound suffered after jumping into the river would take a bus trip to the capital Vientiane, where doctors are available. A serious injury will need a trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
A man swings from a zip line during a tubing plunge in the Vang Vieng river in Laos.
To contact the editor, e-mail: