On May 23, 1999, professional wrestler Owen Hart fell from the rafters 78 feet during Over The Edge 1999, a WWF live PayPerView event at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri.
If you listen to the episode, you will see how great of a guy Owen Hart was and how heart-breaking this accident was on the Hart family. Martha started the Owen Hart Foundation, which you can support at http://owenhartfoundation.org/
The script had Hart dressed as the Blue Blazer, a previous superhero-like character he previously dressed as and the plan was for him to descend from the catwalk nearly 80 feet from the ring.
WCW previously popularized this stunt with their wrestling character Sting, who would often descend to the ring wielding a baseball bat. Hart was uncomfortable with the stunt and noticeably nervous about performing the stunt even though he’s successfully repelled before.
Actual video of Owen Hart’s fall is not accessible to the public despite many phony videos claiming to show the fall in its entirety. And since Over The Edge of 1999 was a PayPerView event, cameramen recorded nothing but panned over the image of the confused audience. Since this happened in 1999, cellphone videos and photos were scarce however I found the following photos from someone supposedly in attendance during the night of Owen’s fall.
Paramedics rushed Hart to the Truman Hospital and despite the best efforts of the staff, they pronounced him dead at 8:12pm. Owen Hart was 34 years old and left behind a son, Oje, a daughter, Athena, and a widow, Martha Hart.
Tragically the fall did not kill Owen instantly, and he suffered for nearly an hour as his body struggled and fought for life. The wrestler free fell from 78 feet, smacking the ropes with a violent force. Hart’s left side absorbed the impact, shattering his arm above the elbow before flinging his 227 pound body back into the ring. As his aorta severed and blood rushed into his lungs, a survival instinct caused the wrestler to sit up, which possibly made the situation much worse.
Cyanosis set and Owen turned blue from the lack of oxygen circulating through his body, which was also swelling to massive proportions. The wrestler suffered massive internal injuries and bleeding and floated in and out of consciousness regularly.
The cause of Owen Hart’s death can be attributed solely to the clipping that the novice Florida rigger Bobby Talbert used. Vince McMahon, not happy with the additional time it took other wrestlers such as Sting to disconnect themselves above the ring, wanted to shave off a few seconds in expense of the wrestler’s safety. Ultimately Owen Hart’s safety (and life) was worth just 2 additional seconds of saved transition time out of the harness.
Research & links
Over The Edge 1999 video found on Dailymotion.com