Friends blame Kiwi for planker's death
Tuesday 17 May 2011 5:41 p.m.
By Australia Correspondent Samantha Hayes
A New Zealand man credited with inventing the game of planking is now being blamed for the death of an Australian who tried to do it drunk, and on balcony.
A message left on Paul Carran’s internet site claims his game is fatally irresponsible.
But Carran, who now lives in Sydney, told 3 news that it’s not the game that’s to blame.
Born in Dunedin, Carran started planking - or as he calls it ‘extreme lying down’ – after hearing about a similar game friends were playing in Britain in 2008.
“We thought we’d just step it up a bit, take it to the next level and go extreme with it,” he says.
He hadn’t heard the game mentioned for years, until suddenly it was headline news with the death of Brisbane man Acton Beale, who fell after a night out drinking. He had been trying to balance on his seventh story balcony railing.
Now, one of Beale’s friends posted a message on Carran’s YouTube clip from 2009 saying:
“Your video killed a friend of mine. You seriously should take this down”.
Asked if he feels like he has blood on his hands, Carran says not at all.
“I laughed at first, because you think it’s a joke. You think, how does your video contribute to the death of somebody. It’s not like anybody, or me personally, made him do it.”
Many people see planking or extreme lying down as harmless, just a bit of fun, a sentiment that’s gone viral.
The Planking New Zealand Facebook page gained over 3000 followers since the news of Beale’s death.
Planking Australia’s page has an average of 600 people signing up every hour.
New photos are appearing online at a startling rate.
One photo shows three boys planking on a railway line. The photo was posted by their parents who say it is abandoned. But police say the adults could be charged.
There’s also a shot of former AFL player Sam Newman, planking on the balcony of his 40th floor apartment.
“The fact that people use the internet to publicise this dangerous behaviour isn’t a reason for banning Facebook or for internet censorship,” says social media consultant Jason Sternberg.
Plankers argue the stupidity of some shouldn’t tarnish them all.