Slide linking two Spanish streets shut down due to injuries

Estepona slide
Screengrab of YouTube video by The Guardian

Some streets in Estepona on the Costa del Sol tend to be steep, so someone came up with the idea of a 124 ft (38m) slide to save a 10-minute walk. It didn’t go well.

‘Fun’ shortcut or deathtrap?

Estepona is a popular resort town on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain.  The older part of town has winding, narrow streets, some of which are pretty steep. The mayor of Estepona came up with the idea of making a “fun” shortcut between two streets. However, just one day after its inauguration, a 124ft (38m) steel chute has been forced to close due to injuries.

It sounds like a lot of fun – traveling down what is reportedly the longest slide of its kind in Spain.  However, it ends up being anything but, after a number of people were injured while trying it out. The idea was to save members of the public a 10-minute walk, taking them quickly from one street to another, but the result is people getting hurt.

Videos on social media show residents hurtling at high speeds down the steel chute. They seem to fly off the end onto safety pads. However, it turns out not everyone made it right to the end.

Slide shut down after 24 hours

As reported by the BBC, the slide was opened on Thursday last week, but in the last few days a number of videos have surfaced on social media. After reports of injuries were received, authorities shut down the slide by taping it over from top to bottom. A new safety inspection has been ordered.

Twitter user @AzulDebonisB tried out the slide and calls it “a s***,” saying she went down the slide. She said she flew 6.5ft (2 m) in the air and hurt herself all over, adding that nearby police officers laughed at her. The images below show the injuries to her elbows.

Another local resident by the Twitter handle @TheCabrerich referred to the slide as having been set up by the local mayor. He called it a clear example of “natural selection” and added a video showing people hurtling down the steel chute.

Other Twitter users are concerned about foreign visitors to the town using the slide. At least one asks how long it will take for a drunk tourist to die while trying it out.

Mayor says injuries an ‘isolated incident’

While Twitter is alive with people complaining of injuries or poking fun at the new “shortcut,” Estepona’s council insists the injuries were isolated incidents. In its statement, the local council said people had been given instructions on how to use the new slide safely. They said some were ignoring the instructions. One example was that local residents were told to travel in a seating position down the slide. Meanwhile many went hurtling down, lying on their backs. The council insists that over 1,000 residents had used the slide “without incident” on its very first day of operation.

However, the statement does continue by saying that due to the injuries that have occurred, the town’s leaders have requested further safety checks to ensure the slide is safe for everyone to use.

As reported by a local newspaper, the Olive Press, a private company is currently redeveloping the area and installed the slide at a cost of $31,400 (€28,000) to the town. Many local residents believe the slide was added as a “vanity project” by the local mayor, who opened the steel chute on Thursday. It wasn’t reported whether the mayor himself tried it out.