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Australian police attribute man's death to internet photo trend

By the CNN Wire Staff
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'Planking' prank ends in tragedy
  • A man fell to his death Sunday while attempting to balance on a high-rise building's balcony
  • Police say "plankers" are trying to outdo each other to get the "ultimate photo"
  • "Planking" has been growing in popularity on social media sites
  • People post photos of themselves lying face down in odd or humorous locations

(CNN) -- A growing internet photo trend is to blame for the death of a 20-year-old Australian man, police in Queensland said Sunday, warning other fans of the dangers surrounding "planking."

The activity has been growing in popularity in Australia as more and more people post photos of themselves "planking" -- or lying prone in various odd or humorous locations -- on various social media sites. A Facebook page called "Planking Australia" has garnered nearly 90,000 "likes" and has inspired similar pages such as "Planking Ireland" and "Planking Norway."

"This morning we have seen a young man take this activity a step further and attempt to plank on a balcony," Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett of the Queensland Police said Sunday. "Unfortunately he has tragically fallen to his death. Police fear that as planking gains popularity there may be more injuries and potentially further deaths."

The danger, according to police, is followers of the trend are trying to "outdo" each other by taking bigger risks on where they try to "plank."

"The potential disaster increases as more and more risks are taken to get the ultimate photo," a statement issued by the Queensland police said.

Acton Beale, 20, died when he lost his footing and fell from the balcony of a high-rise building while attempting to "plank," the country's public broadcaster, ABC, reported.

Last week, a man caught photographing himself face down on top of a Queensland police car was arrested and charged with trespassing on police property, police said, warning that others will be charged "if they attempt the activity in areas that constitute trespass or in dangerous locations."

The trend appears to have been started in 2009 on Facebook as the "Lying Down Game" before reappearing in recent months as "planking."

Seven emergency medics in England were suspended from work in 2009 after posting photos of themselves lying face down on resuscitation trolleys, ward floors and an air ambulance helipad.

The trend has spawned how-to videos on YouTube and has even spread to Australia's rugby field, where popular player David "Wolfman" Williams appeared to "plank" after scoring during a game in March.

Photos posted on the "Planking Australia" page show people lying across bookshelves, in front of the Eiffel Tower and on top of fences.