Univ. of Iowa Climbing Wall Closed After Student Injured in Fall

By Vanessa Miller, Reporter

David Patton, assistant director for outdoor recreation, demonstrates how to rock climb on the 52.5 foot climbing wall in the new Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on the corner of Burlington and Madison in Iowa City on Friday, July 30, 2010. The facility will open its doors on Monday and will be free to the public for the first two weeks. After that, the facility is free to students and open to the public for a fee. A large portion of the $70 million, 215,000 square-foot project, is paid for by UI student tuition. (Julie Koehn/SourceMedia Group News)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The rock climbing wall at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center remains closed this week after a UI student fell about 30 feet, injuring his spine.

Spencer E. Bean, 21, was climbing the wall in the recreation center at the corner of Burlington and Madison streets at 9:56 p.m. Thursday when he fell, according to Dave Visin, associate director of the UI Department of Public Safety.

Bean landed on his feet, according to a UI police report, and he was rushed to the UI emergency room. The climbing wall was closed after the fall and has not reopened, according to recreation center officials.

An online blog cataloging Bean’s fall and his subsequent recovery states that he fell 30 to 40 feet and remembers landing, passing out for a few seconds and waking up to people looking at him. The blog’s author, who identifies as a family member, said Bean crushed two vertebrae and underwent an eight-hour surgery.

According to the blog, “The neurosurgeon said that it is a miracle that he is not paralyzed.”

Despite the numerous surgeries and operations ahead, the blog author wrote, “He is in good spirits. You know Spence is a chronic optimist, and this will serve him well in the days to come.”

A post on Sunday said a friend has sent out a prayer chain for Bean, and it went international in two days – with responses coming from as far away as Nepal and Ireland.

“The world is really quite small and filled with good people,” according to the blod.

Details of how or why Bean fell have not been made public. Officers are continuing to investigate the accident.

It’s unclear when the climbing wall will reopen.
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