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US Tourist Falls Into Mount Vesuvius Crater After Taking Selfie

We take a look back at the tragic story of one tourist whose pursuit of the perfect selfie at Mount Vesuvius resulted in a terrifying fall.

Tourists Visit Mount Vesuvius
(Image Credit: Julia Lourido/Shutterstock)

Selfies are widely considered the ideal way of creating an everlasting, personalized memory of an event. As such, it’s no surprise that iconic world landmarks are so often surrounded by excited tourists, phone in hand, deliberating on the optimum selfie angle.

It’s a universal occurrence, after all. Most of us have momentarily abandoned the beauty of a location or monument to whip out our phones and observe our majestic surroundings digitally.

From the Great Wall of China to Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower – it’s almost an innate aspect of 21st-century global culture to take a snap of our unforgettable visits to world landmarks.

But it’s not always just the photo that’s memorialized. Tragedy can strike – and it often does – during the simple act of taking a selfie. We take a look back at how this casual act of photography caused near-catastrophe for one such unfortunate tourist.

Mount Vesuvius And One Man’s Fateful Photo

A Tourist Overlooks Mount Vesuvius
A Man Overlooks Vesuvius. Image Credit: Christopher Moswitzer/Shutterstock

Almost two years ago, during the summer of 2022, a tourist underwent a dramatic fall into the crater of Mount Vesuvius during a photo op.

The then 23-year-old tourist had supposedly decided on an alternative, forbidden route across the 4,202 ft volcano. Signage is commonplace in the area – with safe zones being signposted along conventional routes.

Mount Vesuvius is notorious for its catastrophic eruption in AD79, which resulted in two ancient Roman cities – Pompeii and Herculaneum – being entirely destroyed. Because of its proximity to nearby towns, Vesuvius is widely perceived as one of Earth’s most perilous volcanoes.

Likely seeking out more scenic, picture-worthy angles of Naples’ Mount Vesuvius, the American tourist – accompanied by his family – embarked on a more perilous out-of-bounds path inaccessible to visitors.

Flying over from Maryland in the United States, the tourist was likely enamored by the stunning once-in-a-lifetime setting of Mount Vesuvius.

But by continuing along a prohibited route, as Italian media had reported back in 2022, the tourist’s daredevil antics would lead to imminent peril.

The tourist subsequently took out his phone after venturing towards the summit of Mount Vesuvius. But tragedy struck moments later.

Aftermath Of The Fall

Mount Vesuvius' Crater
Mount Vesuvius’ Crater. Image Credit: pictures of/Shutterstock

As the young man stood atop the volcano’s summit, he unexpectedly dropped his phone. Attempting to retrieve the device, the tourist suddenly tumbled and fell.

Falling several meters, the tragic occurrence led to local police being informed, in addition to a rescue helicopter and Vesuvius guides being tasked with finding the tourist.

The guides subsequently abseiled down the perilous route. Upon discovering the injured man, he was lifted out via a long rope and attended to at once.

Miraculously, the tourist only suffered minor injuries, namely cuts and bruises to his back and arms.

By venturing into a forbidden section of the volcano and reportedly possessing no viable tickets to be present at the location, the man and his three relatives faced charges of invading public land.

Though it is unknown what action was taken, the shock of that warm 2022 day will be impossible to forget among the Maryland family.

The Dangers Of Selfies

A Tourist Takes A Scenic Selfie
A Tourist Takes A Scenic Selfie. Image Credit: Aygul Sarvarova/Shutterstock

It ought to be remembered that 2022’s Vesuvius incident wasn’t an exceptional, one-off occurrence by any means.

A global study, conducted by the US National Library of Medicine revealed that a shockingly high number of tragic deaths occurred while selfies were being taken.

The study found that, between 2011 and 2017, 259 tragically lost their lives while taking selfies.

Findings from the study also revealed that the vast majority of the deaths, almost three-quarters, were men. The most prominent causes of death were described as falls, drowning and transport.

More worryingly, the study found that selfie-related deaths are rising, as a mere three were reported in 2011, compared to 98 in 2016.

Though selfies are now a mainstay in today’s tech-savvy society, perhaps the surroundings in which we take them need to be more carefully considered.

Written By

I am an MLitt Digital Journalism Masters student at Strathclyde University, and a 2.1 graduate of English Literature (MA Hons) at the University of Edinburgh. Engaging for a decade with journalistic writing and reporting, I have been involved with a broad range of media work; from sports journalism and features, to news writing and disability awareness.

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