But when the man’s phone fell into the crater around 3 p.m., the situation worsened, Paolo Cappelli, president of Presidio Permanente Vesuvio, a base atop Mount Vesuvius where guides operate, told NBC. Instead of picking up the phone and taking the perfect Instagram photo, the man slipped and fell a few feet into the crater.
“This morning a tourist for reasons yet to be determined… together with his family ventured down a forbidden path, arrived at the crater rim and fell into the mouth of #Vesuvius,” wrote Gennaro Lametta, a government tourism official, on Facebook.
Cappelli told Il Mattino, a Naples newspaper, that a team of volcano guides on the other side of the rim used binoculars to realize that the man “had slipped inside the crater and had serious trouble,” noting that the American tourist was stuck.
“Four volcanological guides were set in motion instantly and, having arrived on the spot, one of them was lowered with a rope for about 15 meters to enable them to secure the unwary tourist,” Cappelli said, according to a translation of Google. He noted that Carroll could have plunged 300 meters, or nearly 1,000 feet, into the crater.
A photo posted by Lametta on social media shows the man with bruises on his legs, arms and back, as well as bloody scratches on his elbows. Lametta wrote that the man was unconscious when guides picked him up. Police told CNN the man was treated in an ambulance further up the mountain but refused to go to hospital.
Cappelli told local media that Carroll was arrested by local police. It’s unclear what charges he could face.
Attempts to reach Carroll and his family on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Nearly two millennia after a deadly eruption in AD 79 left the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis and Stabiae covered in ash, Mount Vesuvius remains one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. Although Vesuvius technically remains an active volcano, the last eruption was in 1944 and the volcano is in a quiescent state, according to the Vesuvius National Park website. The highest point of the volcano is around 4,190 feet. Vesuvius’ crater is nearly 1,000 feet deep and about 1,500 feet in diameter.
The Baltimore man survived, but others who tried to have their photo taken in scenic but dangerous locations weren’t so lucky. A 2018 study by researchers associated with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a group of public medical colleges based in New Delhi, found that more than 250 people worldwide had died taking selfies over a period of six year. Of the 259 deaths reported between October 2011 and November 2017, researchers found that the leading cause was drowning, followed by incidents involving transport – for example, taking a selfie in front of an oncoming train – and falling from heights. Other causes of selfie-related deaths include animal attacks, gunshots, and electrocution.
“Selfie deaths have become a major public health concern,” Agam Bansal, the study’s lead author, told The Washington Post at the time.
More than 250 people worldwide have died taking selfies, study finds
A study published last year in the Journal of Travel Medicine estimated that 379 people had died while taking selfies from January 2008 to July 2021.
There are more recent examples of selfie-related deaths. Richard Jacobson, a 21-year-old hiker in Arizona, died in January after walking to the edge of a cliff to take a selfie in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. Police told local media that an inquest into Jacobson’s death showed no signs of drug use or foul play, and concluded the death was “just a very tragic accident”.
Cappelli and Lametta praised the volcano guides for quickly recognizing that the American tourist was at risk of diving deeper into the crater of Vesuvius.
“Having spoken directly with the rescuers, I can safely say that last Saturday on Vesuvius they saved a human life,” Cappelli told Vesuvio Live, according to a translation.
Allyson Chiu contributed to this report.