Man dies jumping from climbing wall |

Man dies jumping from climbing wall

Mary Thompson

In a stunt witnessed by three teen-agers, a 38-year-old man jumped to his death early Saturday morning at a South Lake Tahoe indoor rock-climbing wall.

James Miller, of Davis, Calif., was jumping from the top of the 20-foot tall climbing wall onto 4-foot-thick mat used for gymnastics at the Tahoe Gymnastics and Clip in Climbing gym when his head missed the pad and hit the floor, said Judy and Larry Sabo, owners of the business.

The accident happened at about 1:30 a.m., when the gym was closed.

A 911 call from the gym, located at 867 Eloise Ave., reported that Miller was unconscious and not breathing.

Lake Tahoe Ambulance paramedics, South Lake Tahoe Fire, South Lake Tahoe Police and El Dorado County Sheriff’s responded. Miller was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:46 a.m.

An investigation by the South Lake Tahoe Police called the death accidental.

The Sabos said Miller and the three teen-agers – one of whom was a relative of the Sabos and had a key to the gym – entered the business without their consent.

“(Miller) was not invited to the gym. We didn’t give him permission to enter and we did not have knowledge that they were in there – and they knew that,” Judy said. “That’s why they snuck in there. We do not condone this.”

The Sabos also said the gym has six fixed ropes in place at the climbing wall but Miller was not using any of them when the accident occurred.

“He was climbing without a rope and we don’t allow that at any time,” Larry said. “We have a rule there that you cannot climb higher than you are tall without a rope.”

The Sabos said they also believe alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Authorities could neither confirm nor deny the allegations about Miller’s use of alcohol until the results of the autopsy are released, possibly early this week, by the El Dorado County Coroner’s Office.

“This is tragic,” Judy Sabo said.

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