St. Croix River cliff jumping: Popular, dangerous, illegal

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Following the death of a 20-year-old this week, officials are warning young daredevils that cliff jumping into the St. Croix River is dangerous – and prohibited by law.

“Cliff jumping is illegal,” and divers risk a ticket from the National Park Service, one official told the Star Tribune.

Officials on Tuesday found the body of 20-year-old Alex Vitalis in an underwater crevasse of the rock face that he had leapt from, FOX 9 reported. Vitalis was a former high school swim team athlete, the Star Tribune noted. He had jumped into 41-foot water from a rock ledge on the Wisconsin side of the river near Taylors Falls, FOX reported.

Cliff jumping is a popular summer sport in the area, especially with young thrill seekers lured to the picturesque rock walls that line the river, rising 200 feet in some spots, WCCO reports. The station notes that generations of youths have leapt from the cliffs – today's young jumpers often video the feats and promptly post them to social media.

The murky water poses lots of submerged dangers, officials say. A number of people have died cliff jumping into the St. Croix over the years, including a 26-year-old St. Paul man two years ago.

Cliff jumping has been outlawed more than a decade, WCCO notes. Why risk the danger – and a citation? "Adrenaline," one young local said, telling WCCO he won't cliff jump anymore.

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