A man in his twenties was hospitalized after crossing the security perimeter around Geneva's iconic Jet d'Eau and attempting to hug the forceful fountain. The Jet d'Eau, which has been part of Geneva's view for more than 130 years, shoots water really fast, at 124 miles per hour.
Man In Switzerland Sent To Hospital After Trying To Hug A Famous Geneva Fountain That Sprays Water At 110 Gallons Per Second
In Geneva, a young man had to go to the hospital after a strong interaction with one of the city's well-known symbols, the Jet d'Eau fountain.
According to the BBC, the man's identity hasn't been shared, but he was thrown into the air by the powerful blast of water from the Jet d'Eau fountain. He eventually landed on the hard concrete surface below.
To provide context, the Jet d'Eau shoots about 110 gallons of water into the air every second, reaching a height of over 450 feet. This is 150 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. Another way to think about it is that the fountain propels water at a speed of 124 miles per hour.
The young man, believed to be in his twenties, apparently ignored the barriers around the fountain. For some unclear reason, he tried to place his face against the water nozzle where the water comes out. This action resulted in him being thrown backward.
Undeterred, the young man made a second attempt. This time, he tried to hug the fountain, but the force of the water lifted him into the air.
He landed heavily on the nearby concrete walkway. Surprisingly, he then jumped into Lake Geneva before local authorities arrived to take him to the hospital.
“Police officers came and asked to urgently shut off the Jet d’Eau to be able to go get him,” one witness said.
The Swiss electric company responsible for managing the fountain, SIG, announced its intention to lodge a complaint against the man for trespassing.
The Jet d'Eau, translated as "water jet," has been a consistent feature of the Geneva skyline since the 1800s. It has remained one of the city's renowned symbols throughout the years. According to the House of Switzerland, for numerous individuals, the towering water fountain symbolizes the city's drive and liveliness.
It seems that its creation was a result of a technical glitch.
“It’s a bit of a fluke that there’s a water jet in Geneva,” said SIG’s Hervé Guinand.
From 1850 to 1890, Geneva experienced a population surge, growing from a mere 64,000 residents to over 100,000. Being a hub for industry and commerce, Geneva saw the emergence of fresh technologies, which demanded substantial power.
To cater to the energy needs of these novel machines, engineers harnessed the flow of the Rhône River. They built a hydraulic pump capable of utilizing water to drive machinery in factories, especially in watchmaking studios.
During the nighttime when workers were done for the day, there was an excess buildup of pressure in the system. Engineers had to hurriedly stop each pump individually until they introduced a safety valve to manage the pressure. This safety valve unexpectedly led to a large water fountain shooting up into the sky.
Initially, the water reached a height of about 150 feet. Over time, engineers developed a system that didn't require this massive fountain to keep spraying into the air. However, both locals and visitors had become quite attached to the fountain's occasional bursts.
The city of Geneva made the decision to officially designate the water jet as a tourist attraction. They also relocated it to a more visible location along the harbor, where it remains today.
In the beginning, the fountain operated solely on Sundays and public holidays. However, its popularity led the city to occasionally activate it on weekdays as well. This posed a problem because the fountain used water from the public drinking water supply.
Then, in 1951, changes were made to make the fountain shoot water even higher. It was redesigned to draw water directly from the lake, passing it through a filtering system before ejecting it into the air.
Since then, the same pumps have been continuously used. The city has also made some improvements to the fountain, including the addition of an LED projector box that can illuminate the water with various colors.