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Parents of son killed in arch swing warn thrill-seekers: Think of your family

Published: Tuesday, March 26 2013 5:55 p.m. MDT

Kyle Stocking, 22, joined the Marines after high school. He was going to school to become a mechanical engineer. He died Sunday, March 24, 2013, while attempting to swing from Corona Arch in Moab.

, Stocking family

WEST JORDAN — Their son attempted to swing from Corona Arch in Moab, but a miscalculation cost him his life.

On Tuesday, Mike and Linda Stocking spoke about their 22-year-old son, Kyle Stocking, and his love for adventure. They knew they couldn’t stop him, and they have advice for thrill-seekers:

"Think about your parents, your family, your friends before you do things like this, because you might lose your life, and it’s going to absolutely devastate your family," Linda Stocking said.

The couple said their son loved life and lived life to the fullest and they knew that he was planning to go to Moab to do the jump.

“It was something that he wanted to do,” his mother said. “I finally learned a long time ago, you cannot change your children. They are going to do what they’re going to do.”

His parents had seen the YouTube video titled “World’s Largest Rope Swing” and were apprehensive about the trip.

"I didn't think he would do it,” she said. “But when I learned he was going to do it, I almost had to block it out of my mind that he was going to go, because if I sit there and think about everything that he does, I would go crazy. It’s too scary to me. I am not adventurous.”

Their son was an experienced rock climber, but he was overly excited and undertrained for this endeavor. The day he left on his trip, his parents were heading out to California.

“Before he left, I was standing at the bottom of the stairs, and he was standing at the top (waving) and saying, ‘Goodbye, Mom.’ I said, 'OK, please be careful and take care of each other.'”

Kyle Stocking and five friends set up a rope swing on the natural arch Sunday afternoon. They miscalculated the length of the rope, however, and Stocking hit the ground when he tried to swing, sustaining fatal injuries. His parents got a call that evening.

“I couldn’t believe it was Kyle, just, just in disbelief,” his mother said in tears.

“It was the hardest phone call I ever received,” Mike Stocking said. “It’s a surreal thing. It’s almost like an out of body experience. Until a person ever goes through it, they will never understand how devastating that phone call is.”

The loss of his son hasn’t sunk in yet, he said. “I’m still waiting for him to come in (at lunch), waiting for someone to say, ‘Just kidding, this isn’t real.’”

He said he and his family are going through the grieving process.

“I pray that the young men and women who do things like this stop to think for a moment of the risks involved and those people left behind that are going to be broken-hearted,” he said.

His wife said if someone has the desire to do something and it’s their passion, they should do it. “But just be really safe,” she said. “Go with someone who has done it before. Learn. Be taught. Don’t just dive into it because you may lose your life.”

They don’t believe his friends had ever done the jump or any kind of test on the rope beforehand. “(The rope) stretched too far,” Linda Stocking said. “They just miscalculated quite a ways from what we understand.”

They met with Kyle’s friends Tuesday and shared the pain from the experience. “Our hearts are broken for the horrible thing they had to witness and the long hard drive that they had coming back, knowing that their friend was gone,” Mike Stocking said.

The Stockings say they are also grateful to the nurse who helped their son and for members of their LDS faith who gave Kyle a blessing before he passed away.

His mother wants to go visit Corona Arch. “I want to hike where it is,” she said getting very emotional. “I want to see it, I want to be where he was the last time.” 

E-mail: jboal@ksl.com, vvo-duc@ksl.com

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