Family of B.C. man who died ziplining in Thailand calls for change

WATCH: Family of Thailand zipline accident victim asks for change

The family of a B.C. man who died in a zipline accident in Thailand last month is hoping the tragedy will help spark safety changes in the industry.

Spencer Donaldson was clipped in for a five-kilometre ride at Flight of the Gibbon in Chaing Mai on April 13, when he stepped off the platform and fell 12 metres to his death as his fiancee watched in horror.

Donaldson was remembered by friends and family as an outgoing person who loved life at a memorial service in his hometown of Fruitvale over the weekend.


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Flight of the Gibbon says before getting on the zipline, Donaldson completed a safety orientation and added that he was within the ride’s 125-kg weight limit.

The company has pinned the accident on “metallurgic failure.”

Spencer Donaldson died moments after this photo was taken at the Flight of the Gibbon zipline course in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Spencer Donaldson died moments after this photo was taken at the Flight of the Gibbon zipline course in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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However, Donaldson’s family believes there is evidence that cable clamps on the ride were not installed properly.

“We are very happy to have the support of the Thai government and local authorities to implement change and accountability that will make safety in ziplining equal to other countries,” said Donaldson’s family in a statement.

The accident remains under investigation.

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Donaldson’s family isn’t the only one raising concerns about the safety of overseas adventure sports such as ziplines.

Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones told Global News the federal government has since updated its travel advisories on Thailand with a warning about adventure sports.

“It’s very important for people to understand, in adventure sports, international standards are not necessarily adhered to,” she said.

“We understand how important that is to Spencer’s family and it is to us too.”

Part of the cable equipment used by Spencer Donaldson the day of his fatal accident.

Part of the cable equipment used by Spencer Donaldson the day of his fatal accident.

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Flight of the Gibbon claims to be a member of the Association for Challenge Course Technology, an industry group that focuses in part on standards and credentials.

The association denies that the company is a member.


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Donaldson’s family has hired Kevin Smith, a Whistler zipline operator, to investigate the circumstances around their son’s death.

The family has also begun collecting donations for the Spencer Donaldson Legacy Fund, which will support educational opportunities for underprivileged kids.

Donations can be made at any branch of Kootenay Savings Credit Uniton, or by e-transfer to donaldsonlegacyfund@gmail.com.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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