Manslaughter Charges Filed in Death of 12-Year-Old Climber

adventure journal tito traversa quickdraw
Two months after 12-year-old Italian climbing prodigy Tito Traversa died in Orpierre, France, after taking a 20-meter fall due to improperly used quickdraws, the public prosecutor of Torino, Raffaele Guariniello, has filed manslaughter charges against five individuals or entities — the manufacturer of rubber devices used in the quickdraws, the owner of the shop that sold them, the owner of the guide service that took Traversa that day, and two guides, La Repubblica Torino is reporting. A sixth person is being considered for charges.

Traversa was warming up on a 5.10d on July 3 when he topped out and leaned back to be lowered off the route. Eight of the 12 quickdraws he’d placed failed. They had been assembled incorrectly — rather than clipping the draw into the carabiner, the rubber piece known as a keeper or string was used to connect the two. When used correctly, the keeper protects the quickdraw and helps keep it properly oriented. Tragically, the eight were at the top of the route and the four correctly assembled were at the bottom.

The photo above displays the incorrect method of using the strings and was provided by investigators to Traversa’s father to explain what happened. The correct installation is shown below.
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{ 35 comments…read them below or write one }

    • Michael Pearlman

      Beat me to the punch- This is a tragedy and there may be some civil culpability, but the legal system in Italy is completely dysfunctional.

  • B

    This results in the question of who was responsible in checking the gear? The answer; every single person TO INCLUDE the 12 year old climbing. One cannot be considered a prodigy without having the foundation of basics (which includes checking your gear before you snap in). While this is a tragedy all the way around, this is why checking YOUR gear to protect YOUR life is critical.

    • Andreas

      Very tragic.
      I agree with knowing the Basics. My 12 year old Girl will not use any Gear unless she knows what it does and how to use properly.
      to often we see these great Kids climbing with no clue about Knots or Gear, the Basics are just that. Don’t send your Child out climbing without teaching them the Basics.
      I would like to know who assembled these Draws.

  • Norman PetersenNorman Petersen Post author

    None of those things has me dangling from a cliff by a thread. Odds of surviving a car crash (or a toaster fire) are substantially higher than carabiner failure. Just ask Goran Kropp. Oh wait…

  • Norman PetersenNorman Petersen Post author

    None of those things has me dangling from a cliff by a thread. Odds of surviving a car crash (or a toaster fire) are substantially higher than carabiner failure. Just ask Goran Kropp. Oh wait…

  • Ted PetersonTed Peterson Post author

    This user error is equivalent to forgetting to put all the lug nuts on your cars’ wheels and then bombing down a windy mountain road. Tragic, but preventable.

  • Ted PetersonTed Peterson Post author

    This user error is equivalent to forgetting to put all the lug nuts on your cars’ wheels and then bombing down a windy mountain road. Tragic, but preventable.

  • Nicholas CryderNicholas Cryder Post author

    when I read the headline, I thought “aww cmon accident’s happen… what’s the gov really got to prove here?” but then to see those ‘biners rigged like that, its just breathtaking ignorance for everyone involved that needs to be made an example of.

  • Nicholas CryderNicholas Cryder Post author

    when I read the headline, I thought “aww cmon accident’s happen… what’s the gov really got to prove here?” but then to see those ‘biners rigged like that, its just breathtaking ignorance for everyone involved that needs to be made an example of.

  • Robert PetersonRobert Peterson Post author

    If someone hands me gear to use, I at least glance at it. A 5.13d climber, even if he was only 12 years old, should certainly be able to recognize a gross error like the draw shown in the photo. I’m sorry for the kid, but thevresponsibility is divided between the person who mis-rigged the draw, and the user of the draw. I guarantee it didn’t come from the factory like that!

  • Drew WattersDrew Watters Post author

    I can see culpability in the guides and their company. The manufacturer? I’d need proof that the item was neglectfully designed and/or advertised. The shop? Not unless they were telling people to use it the wrong way. All if these should be civil liabilities, not necessarily jail time.

  • glenn campbell

    When you publish photos like these you should always watermark the pics with correct & incorrect so someone doesnt see something and think its the right way to do it. Yes, everyone needs proper training, but we dont live in a perfect world.

  • Mike

    So here is what I don’t understand…if the draws were pre-hung, how did the original lead climber get lowered? Presumably he/she had to use the same anchor as the fallen climber, right?

    • Erik

      This was the first article I’ve seen where it explicitly said Tito topped out – it could be that the top anchors were build differently, and the leader who put up all the draws was lowered on that, while someone taking most of the way up had to depend on just the draws…

  • Charles KelsoCharles Kelso Post author

    OMG
    All the hair on my arms stood up as soon as I looked at the photo… I hadn’t even read the title yet. So many opportunities to catch this error, so many failures.

  • Josh

    Looks like there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to using this gear correctly. Even the QuickDraw in the photo that is described as being assembled “correctly” is put together wrong. The “Keeper” is supposed to be on the bottom (rope side) ONLY.

  • Cinthia

    How could a 12 year old was responsible for his safety on an organised trip? He is a just a minor. This demonstrates gross incompetence of the adults involved on the trip, to assemble one incorrectly may have been understandable, but not 8. The equipment is safe, so I hardly believe the manufacturers are to blame, the instructors know the risk involved in training with children and they are responsible for what happened.

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