Multiple people die in TikTok ‘boat jumping’ challenge


Sopuruchi Onwuka

At least four people have died in Alabama attempting a dangerous TikTok challenge where people leap off of moving boats and hit the water, officials said.

Capt. Jim Dennis of the Childersburg Rescue Squad told NBC News the four people died in the state over the past six months after jumping out of boats.

“The four that we responded to when they jumped out of the boat, they literally broke their neck and, you know, basically an instant death,” Dennis said.

The TikTok stunt is not new, with videos posted of people jumping out of moving boats since 2020, but more people are trying the challenge as they’re out on the water during the summer months.

Experts emphasized the dangers of attempting the challenge on TODAY.

“You can wind up with broken bones a broken neck, or you could end up running into the propeller of your own boat or another boat could run over you and that would cause lots of damage if not death,” said Gail Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation.

Kulp, who works to educate boaters and prevent recreational accidents on the water, added the stunt is “really, really dangerous.”

“Hitting the water from a moving boat is like hitting concrete from jumping multiple stories stories up,” Kulp said.

Experts added that wearing a life jacket while jumping out of a boat would not be able to prevent serious injuries or death, and the only way to be safe is to not try the stunt.

TikTok said in a statement to NBC News it has added warnings on some of its videos that note “participating in this activity could result in you or others getting hurt.”

“It’s not accurate to characterize or report this as a TikTok challenge,” TikTok said in the statement, adding the company “can’t comment on something that isn’t a trend on our platform.”

Other social media challenges have caused harm or even taken lives, including the “skull breaker challenge,” where one TikToker said she had to get surgery after she stood in a line with her friends, who kicked out her legs from under her, causing her to crash onto the floor.

And in the “salt and ice challenge,” some users reported getting second-degree burns after putting salt and ice directly onto their bare skin.

When asked about these challenges, TikTok pointed NBC News to its community guidelines, which state: “We do not allow showing or promoting dangerous activities and challenges… and advising If you see a dangerous activity or challenge, pause for a moment to stop and think before you decide and act.”

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