The Cold Water Challenge has now claimed a life. Davis Colley of Minnesota died Friday night after jumping into a lake as part of the social media-driven challenge. Colley, 16, told his girlfriend via text of his plans to take part in the challenge by plunging into the lake near the Baylor Park fishing pier on Friday evening.At approximately 9:30 p.m., police were notified that a teenaged boy had gone underwater in Eagle Lake and had not surfaced. Carver County officials responded to the lake in Camden Township and began a search for Colley. His body was recovered at approximately 11 p.m. Friends of Colley could give no reason why he made the decision to take part in the Cold Water Challenge or why he chose to do so alone. The incident is under investigation.
The Cold Water Challenge is most popular among high school or college students, and begins when one person “nominates” another on social media to either make a donation to a cancer charity or jump into cold water. As the challenge has grown in popularity, the dare has become less noble, as some nominees are being given options such as bringing the nominator alcohol or jumping into cold water. After the challenge is posed, the subject has a deadline of one to two days to take the plunge and post video proof online or else they must donate money or perform some other task they were challenged to do.
Also in Minnesota, the Hennepin County sheriff is looking into whether the man who dove from the 610 West River Road Bridge into the Mississippi River Wednesday night did so as part of the challenge. After reports of a man jumping from the bridge were received at approximately 8:35 p.m., numerous rescue and police organizations responded, including several neighboring fire departments, the Minnesota State Patrol and the Department of Natural Resources. It was later learned that the jumper had donned a life jacket prior to his leap and was able to swim to shore. A video of the man’s jump was posted on various social media sites shortly thereafter.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said that although officials are always willing to rescue those who are in trouble, when people need help unnecessarily due to a dangerous stunt, they put the safety of first responders and other officials in danger as well as themselves. The sheriff’s office is looking into whether charges will be brought against the jumper and the person who recording the jump. Said Stanek, “If being stupid was against the law, well, this might qualify for that very thing.”
In the northern Minnesota city of Duluth, an Army Corps of Engineers employee prevented a college student, who confirmed that she was participating in the Cold Water Challenge, from jumping into Lake Superior from the piers. The Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers in Duluth, which houses the University of Minnesota – Duluth, are warning people against taking the challenge. The cold waters in Minnesota at this time of year could prove deadly to jumpers due to the gasp reflex, which occurs when the water is so cold as to shock the person entering it, causing water to be breathed into the lungs, which could result in drowning.
Minnesota officials are concerned about the popularity of the Cold Water Challenge in their state due to the extremely cold temperatures of the lakes and rivers after a particularly cold winter. They also remind the public that in many cases, it is against the law to swim in navigation channels or to jump from piers.
By Jennifer Pfalz