Witnesses: Man parkour training falls from 4th floor


by Catherine Holland


Posted on July 20, 2011 at 6:28 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 20 at 5:12 PM

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TEMPE, Ariz. – A young man is in critical condition after falling from the fourth floor of a Tempe apartment building, possibly while participating in parkour or “free running.”

It happened early Wednesday morning in the neighborhood of Apache Boulevard and Rural Road.

According to residents of the building, John Martin, 19, was trying to jump from one rail to another. Police have not confirmed that that’s what he was doing.

Parkour, sometimes known as free running, is a popular activity that originated in France.

Basically, parkour is a way of getting from place to place via the most direct route by running, climbing and jumping. People go around or more likely over obstacles using only their bodies. Participants often vault over obstacles, scale walls, swing and roll. Efficiency and speed are key elements of parkour.

Free running is an American subset of parkour and often involves "tricking" moves by adding aerial rotations, spins or flips. Some describe it as “urban acrobatics.”

Neighbors said they have seen Martin and several others practicing climbing walls, climbing trees and jumping from balcony to balcony.

On Wednesday morning, Martin missed the rail he was aiming for and fell about 30 feet, hitting his head on the concrete below. He was taken to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center. At last check, he remained in critical condition. His long-term prognosis was not known.

Police are investigating the incident. Molly Enright of the Tempe Police Department said there is no indication that alcohol was a factor in Martin's fall.