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Man 'Lucky To Be Alive' After Backflipping Into Britain's Most Powerful Waterfall

Jake Massey

| Last updated 

Man 'Lucky To Be Alive' After Backflipping Into Britain's Most Powerful Waterfall

A cliff jumper says he is 'lucky to be alive' after jumping from 70 feet into Britain's most powerful waterfall.

Matty Harper took the plunge at High Force waterfall in Teesdale, UK, on Sunday, as onlookers watched on in disbelief.

The 25-year-old emerged from the stunt unscathed, but has since admitted that he 'underestimated the risk' after struggling below the powerful waters for eight seconds.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Mr Harper, from Bradford, said he did carry out a risk assessment prior to the leap, but has warned any prospective jumpers that 'it is definitely not safe'.

He said: "I feel lucky to be alive. To anybody else thinking of jumping this waterfall, please do not. It is definitely not safe. I was definitely lucky to get out.

"I was held under for about seven to eight seconds and it was a real struggle to swim to the surface.

"I thought I'd be okay where I jumped, I wasn't. I behaved recklessly, and am happy to be alive."

Yes, it seems the stunt has dashed any dreams of a career in risk assessment for Mr Harper, though this is presumably an uncommon line of work for cliff jumpers.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Mr Harper has been involved with the extreme sport since he was 14. The jump he performed into the waterfall was called a Tsukahara, which is a turning frontflip into a backflip.

Mr Harper travelled up to the waterfall in County Durham with fellow cliff jumpers and said a lot of thought went into the jump.

He said: "I'm not a professional, however, I train a lot and very hard.

"We discussed safety for at least an hour before we jumped, having two people at the water's edge with ropes at the ready."

But to 37-year-old onlooker Neal Pattinson, who recorded the footage, the jump never looked safe.

He said: "I thought he was just looking down over the edge and then he jumped.

"Obviously it was really silly and it looked really worrying for a few seconds.

"I was really pleased to see him come back up."


A spokesman for Durham Police has since corroborated Mr Harper's and Mr Pattinson's assessment that the jump was unsafe.

He said: "There have been a number of fatalities over the years.

"Over the weekend weather conditions were extremely dangerous with water levels being unusually high.

"The male was incredibly lucky to have left the water unscathed."

In 2016, Hartlepool teenager Curtis Atherton died after getting into difficulty in the same area.

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Jake Massey
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