Man who plunged to death from Brisbane balcony was planking



THE death of a man while "planking" has led to police warnings about the risk of further injuries or fatalities.

In what is thought to be Australia's first planking fatality, Acton Beale, 20, fell seven storeys after slipping off a 5cm-wide balcony railing in Brisbane yesterday.

Police are sending stern warnings to those caught up in the planking craze in which a person has their photo taken while they lie motionless on their stomach in various locations.

The photos are posted for approval on social-networking sites, with the most dangerous and amusing gaining the most kudos.

A male friend of Mr Beale confirmed the pair had been planking on their way home from a night on the town before tragedy struck.

Mr Beale's distraught parents, who live near Gladstone in Queensland, were unavailable for comment, but a friend, Lauraine Schmitt, described him as a "an awesome young man and will be dearly missed by so many".

Witnesses said they heard a loud bang about 4.30am but were unaware someone had fallen to their death.

Queensland Police issued a general warning about the dangers of planking.

"Police fear that as planking gains popularity, there may be more injuries and potentially further deaths," the statement read.

Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Barnett indicated police could charge plankers if they were found trespassing or engaging in an unauthorised high-risk activity and reiterated police had done just that to a man in Gladstone who planked on a police car last week.

Victoria Police said they could impose a $293 on-the-spot fine if people who planked were "walking or climbing on any part of rail premises not intended for passenger use".

Spokesman Sen-Constable Marty Beveridge said he was not aware of any incidents where police had been forced to stop plankers, but warned officers would do so if there was a safety risk.

"We are not against people having a good time and doing something that is in good taste or a bit of fun. But when it starts causing a traffic disruption or it's impacting on the safety and wellbeing of others then that is when we're going to have to get involved," Sen-Constable Beveridge said.

The Planking Australia Facebook page had more than 62,000 followers last night and was growing.

A planking group is reportedly planning a "21 Plank salute" for Mr Beale in Federation Square today.

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