Selfie Death Of Young Nursing Student Highlights Dangers Of Self-Portraits

Sylwia Rajchel

The death of a Polish nursing student in Spain on Wednesday is disturbing on many levels. Sylwia Rajchel was taking a selfie when she lost her footing and fell to her death from a popular bridge. Two days before Rajcel died in the tragic plunge, hosts of an NPR-affiliate show talked about the dangers of taking self-portraits in public.

Rajchel, 23, is from the city of Lubin. She was on break from the University of Medicine in Posada, and was visiting the Southern Spanish city of Seville when the fatal fall took place.

Sylwia Rajchel selfie

Sylwia Rajchel ended up at the famous Puente de Triana Bridge and was trying to take a selfie from the ledge when she suddenly lost her footing and plunged to the concrete infrastructure from a height of about 15 feet, according to a New York Daily News report.

The selfie-death shook up the woman’s mother, as one can expect from hearing the sobering news. Bernadeta Rajchel managed to compose herself long enough to weigh in on the tragedy.

“Going to Spain was a dream come true for my daughter. She had taught herself the language and was hoping to work there in the future after finishing her studies. She was a beautiful, smiling girl who had her whole life ahead of her.

“It’s hard to believe what’s happened, that I will never see Sylvia again. That I won’t hug her and will never be able to tell her how much I love her and how proud I was of her. It breaks my heart, I feel this is nightmare that is not happening.”

After Sylwia Rajchel’s selfie bridge fall, a Seville city spokesperson made a statement on the fatality and said it was “a tragic accident.” Additionally, city officials want to ensure visitors that they are making plans to make the section of the bridge “safer.” However, oftentimes, in many similar cases, it’s less of an emphasis on the infrastructure than it is on the behavior the person was involved in just before an accident takes place.

Sylwia Rajchel

As mentioned earlier, hosts from WGBH News created a segment on the radio called “The Hazards of a Wildlife Selfie.” Hosts and invited guests spoke about the “do’s and dont’s when it comes to today’s high-tech self-portrait.” Particular emphasis was on national parks where visitors using their smartphones to capture selfies with resident animals and share the images on social media.

With the rise of digital file-sharing services and apps, people are compelled to push the limits of safety in order to capture the selfie of a lifetime, even at the risk of life and limb. Oftentimes, snap-enthusiasts are not even aware of the dangers, according to the hosts, who pointed out a grizzly bear close-call. The participants then mention the near-fatal encounters at the Tour de France recently.

“SCHAFFER: Cyclists were actually running over people who were stepping out into the road and turning their backs on the cyclists and trying to shoot themselves with the cyclist as they rode by.”

“CORNISH: And we know selfie accidents can be really serious – in some cases fatal – behind the wheel of a car, for instance. So what’s going on here? Schaffer says new camera technology, whether cell phone or body cam, is…”

“SCHAFFER: Pushing people to go bigger, ride faster, hit bigger jumps. You know, people don’t really know whether they had a good time doing something until they get home and look at the photos or post them on Facebook and get some kind of recognition from their friends. You know, I think that that’s part of it as well.”

Hopefully, Sylwia Rajchel’s fatal selfie incident drives more awareness to the threats of taking self-portraits. The behavior is here to stay, but hopefully the woman’s accidental death resonates in other photo enthusiasts.

[Image via: Every Joe, Screengrab via YouTube]