I almost fell to my death backing over a cliff decades before this plague of selfie-related deaths

I heard that people are plummeting to their deaths at the Grand Canyon from trying to get the perfect selfie.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Selfie deaths have become an emerging problem and we performed this study to assess the epidemiology of selfie-related deaths across the globe.

Outside Magazine reports it more entertainingly in Selfie Deaths Are an Epidemic, “a recent report found that 259 people died between 2011 and 2017 while stepping in front of the camera in often dangerous destinations.”

Here’s my story from back when I was a 22-year old professional photographer who almost backed over the side of a cliff in an attempt to get the perfect scenic photo of Kilauea, Elizabeth Humphries, and Bob Abraham.

I feel in love hard for a girl from the UK named Liz. When my time abroad was done, I wooed her to visit me in Hawaii, where I’m from. My dad lived there too. We basically had a honeymoon together (I give such good date). So awesome.

Well, at the time, I was a professional photographer. Nikon F4s and F90s (with Velvia and Kodachrome slide film). We ended up visiting Kilauea caldera on the Big Island.

At one point, I wanted to get a photo of my dad, Bob, with English Rose Liz. I am all about framing photos perfectly and I wasn’t getting the right image. So, focused completely on making the image, I edged backward, crunching through the cinders.

“Baby,” Liz said very quietly, “can you come back over here, please,” she added sweetly. “Just a second, I almost got it.” “Son, I need your help with something,” my dad Bob added, “come here please, now,” he added with a little more oomph.

I stepped forward a couple of steps and Liz rushed forward and grabbed me around the waist. She walked backward, pulling me along with her towards where my dad stood, stone-faced.

I turned around and realized that I was inches away from falling backward into a giant hole.

I had been completely oblivious to my surroundings, living full-time, as I was wont to do, in the viewfinder. According to Liz, it was almost cartoonish as there was literally cinder falling over the cliff from the back of my shoe. I was teetering in blissful ignorance.  

It’s a little blurry now. It might have been the caldera, it might have been just the sort of cliff you get in a lava field, or it might have been a collapse cinder cone or lava tube. But, it would have killed me if I had fallen backward over the edge and down it.

Both Liz and my dad were savvy and smart enough not to startle me with a warning (am I jumpy?) but thought better to woo me back with soft tones and welcoming words.

Aside from actually dying a couple of years ago, it was surely a Schrödinger’s Chris moment.


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