Don't do it for the 'gram: Official says stunt at Bow Falls put lives at risk

An Alberta mother captured video of two people dangerously close to Bow Falls in Banff, perched on a wet rockand using branches from small trees to hang on. Find out the reaction from rescue officials as they continue with a busy season.

Video shows 2 people dangerously close to falls who appear to be snapping photos

A video shot by Meaghen Sendyk shows a dangerous stunt beside Bow Falls in Banff. (Submitted by Meaghen Sendyk)

On the weekend, Meaghen Sendyk was on a hike with her daughter and a friend when she saw two people in a dangerous spot beside Bow Falls. 

At first, she said, they looked to be in serious trouble — perched on a wet rock, a foot from the rushing water, using branches from small trees to hang on.

But then she saw that one of them had a cellphone out, and it looked like they were snapping pictures.

"I decided, you know what, I would like to take a video of this because no one is going to believe what we are seeing," she said. "It made me quite concerned, especially given the recent tragedies in the mountains."

Several rescues, tragedies recently

Over the past few weeks, there have been several rescues and tragedies in the mountains, including an ongoing search for a Calgary man after he fell into the North Saskatchewan River.

Banff Fire Chief and director of Protective Services, Silvio Adamo, saw the video. He said it was irresponsible and dangerous not only for those scaling so close to the falls but for first responders who often have to try to rescue people from those very waters.

"It's not something ourselves or Parks Canada would recommend anyone do," he said. "That person has put themselves in a significant amount of danger. If they had lost their footing, it didn't look like they were roped off, or if anything happened, we would be doing a body recovery down stream."

Deadly falls

Adamo said his crews have done a number of body recoveries at the bottom of the falls over the years. He said from what he sees in the video, the individuals worked their way down a from a viewpoint that's not a sanctioned trail.

He said there was already a rescue this month when two women got caught on a log jam rafting upstream from the falls, and that could have been fatal.

"You really need to treat fast-moving water with a lot of respect and understand circumstances can change quickly along the river shore," Adamo said.

Watch these tense moments captured at Bow Falls in Banff

3 years ago
Duration 1:29
Officials don't recommend doing anything remotely similar, especially if it's just for a photo opportunity.

Sendyk said her daughter was crying, and others on the trail stood dumbfounded.

"I was just gobsmacked," she said. "They were not equipped to be doing what they were doing. Footwear wise, no ropes, no helmets, any type of safety devices that I could see."

Sendyk posted her video on a Facebook group, hoping it would spark conversations about safety in the mountains. 

"I love teaching my daughter about the importance of challenging yourself but the most important thing is knowing your limits," she said.

Call 911, chief says

Adamo said if anyone witnesses the type of behaviour displayed in Sendyk's video, they should immediately call 911. 

"The outcome worked out for these folks this time, but had someone called 911, we could have had responders going down, ensuring they got out of there, and making sure that they realized how dangerous the situation [was] they put themselves and other responders in."