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Carelessness Causes Deaths at the Grand Canyon

In his book Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon, Michael P. Ghiglieri chronicles the nearly 700 deaths that have occurred in the Grand Canyon since the 1870s. Of course most people aren't shocked that fatal mishaps occur there. After all, the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet). The extreme temperatures (which often exceed 100 degrees) can quickly lead to heatstroke and dehydration.

So how did most of the deaths occur? Air crashes account for the largest number of deaths at the Grand Canyon. Floods have claimed the lives of some of the river rafters. Other despondent souls have taken their own lives. But according to Ghiglieri, a number of people have gone "over the edge" and fallen to their death through their own carelessness. Specifically, they ignored posted warnings and confidently walked out on to dangerous precipices.

For example, in 1992, a 38-year-old father jokingly tried to frighten his teenage daughter by leaping on to a guard wall. He flailed his arms as he pretended to lose his balance. Then he comically "fell" on the canyon side onto a ledge he assumed was safe. But sadly, after ignoring numerous warning signs, he lost his footing and fell 400 feet into the void below.

Then in 2012, an 18-year-old woman who was hiking on the North Rim Trail decided to venture off the beaten path to have her picture taken at a spot known as Inspiration Point. As she sat down on the ledge of the 1,500-foot deep canyon, the rocks gave way, and she plummeted to her death.

These deaths were not just tragic; they were also completely avoidable. Does anyone truly want his or her last words before "AAAAHHHHHH" to be, "Look at how close I can get to the rim without fall …. ?" Call me overly cautious, but without a hang-glider or parachute attached to my body, I can see the Canyon just fine 10 yards back from the precipice.

And yet many of us approach sin by asking the question, "How close can I get without crossing the line?" We avoid God's warning signs and then edge right up to disaster, confident that we—unlike other people—can avoid the crash. Like the child who listens to a parent's warning and then does everything to push the boundaries, we rush to the edge of sin with a false sense of security.

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