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Became paralyzed after a diving accident, requires better signage – VG

THE FRIEND: From left: Kenneth Elvegård, Nora Bendixen, Abbas Fazal and Ahmed Toufayli together with Geir Kåre Nyland who is in a wheelchair photographed outside Sunnaa’s hospital on 26 June. Photo: Private

Geir Kåre Nyland (30), who was paralyzed a month ago after he fell outside the Munch Museum, and his supporters demand better signage to prevent new accidents. They believe Oslo Municipality has done far too little.


On Wednesday, they marked their dissatisfaction right at the place where Nyland, known as a skilled MMA fighter and winner of The NRK series «Norway’s toughest» in 2013, his life changed abruptly when he May 30 hit the bottom and suffered a fracture in the back.

– I’m lying here in bed and have had my life turned upside down. The doctors say I’ll not go again, but I will. I do not envision life in a wheelchair. It is unreal, says Nyland, who is often just called GK, to VG on the phone from Sunnaas hospital in Nesodden.

He tries not to be bitter and wants to use the voice he has received in connection with the accident, to prevent others from experiencing the same as him.


BETTER SIGNING: They want far better signage to prevent new diving accidents along the quaysides in central Oslo. #Everything to go again, it says on the poster of GK’s supporters. Photo: HELGE MIKALSEN

– It’s unreal

– I’m lying here and indulging no one else. This has become a matter of the heart for me. I do not understand that the municipality has not closed the area until they have managed to put up signs. Oslo municipality has an incredibly large responsibility and should use resources to secure the bathing places, says Nyland who believes that the capital has definitely become a bathing town.

After the accident, the municipality has screwed up several small signs at the pier where there is shallow water and a red cross over a person who is diving. There were also signs before the accident, but then it was longer between the signs.


MUNCH MUSEUM: It was here, outside the Munch Museum, that the accident happened. Geir Kåre Nyland plunged from the wood paneling on the left side. Photo: HELGE MIKALSEN

Read the municipality’s answer further down in the case.

But Nyland thinks it does not hold with small signs mounted on the ground, he calls for large signs at face height.

– I come from Haugesund and there is a sign that protrudes from the pier in red, white and black with a red circle and cross over a guy who is plunging. And there is no one who dives, says Nyland who has not heard a word from the municipality after the accident.

– I have not received a f … flower or a “good recovery” card from the municipality.


WANT A DIVORCE: Geir Kåre Nyland has not heard anything from the municipality after the accident. Photo: SCREEN DUMP FROM GEIR KÅRE NYLAND’S INSTAGRAM

Uusimaa’s good friend, Abbas Fazal, was present when the accident happened. He estimates that the small signs warning against diving were resp. 10 and 13 meters away where Nyland plunged. It was full of bathing people on the pier this day and the signs were not easy to spot, he says.

– I had a feeling that something was wrong, and then I looked for signs, he says about the minutes before the accident this fateful day 30 May.

Then Uusimaa dived out with his hands on his back.


SO THE ACCIDENT: Abbas Fazal was present when GK plunged and suffered a broken back a month ago. He thinks the signage in the area is too bad. Photo: HELGE MIKALSEN

– Should have been railings

Under the water is the “Midgarsormen”, a sewer along the lower part of the Akerselva, which takes care of the surface water in the city. You can see the concrete stones when the wind is calm, but when the water curls it is not visible. The pipe is located a short distance from the pier edge right where Nyland plunged.

Fazal clearly believes that there should be signs at face height that warn against diving so that they are easy to spot, both when sitting and lying and sunbathing on the pier.

– That the municipality does not take more responsibility for what happened is completely sick, he believes.


WARNING: The signs that warn against diving and that the water is shallow are screwed to the pier edge. Photo: HELGE MIKALSEN

Uusimaa’s good friend Kenneth Elvegård also thinks the area should have been much more secure.

– There should be railings here and no swimming. There will be more accidents here, it is one hundred percent certain, he says.

Several of GK’s friends say that they have heard that there have been several accidents at this place before.


BEFORE THE ACCIDENT: Geir Kåre Cemsoylu Nyland, here photographed in 2016. Photo: Annemor Larsen / VG

– Signed up

Richard Kongsteien, communications director at the urban environment agency, tells VG that immediately after the accident they had an inspection with the developer.

– Then we discovered areas where there was too much distance between the signs, and it was immediately signposted, he says.

– Shouldn’t there be signs at face height?

– The question of divorce is a dilemma. It is very difficult to stand away from risk in a city. What we are working on now is to find a solution that to a much greater extent intuitively signals that here you must not jump into the water, says Kongsteien and adds that the professionals agree that the solution is no longer a sign.

Some of the alternatives the municipality is considering are colors, lights, fences and planting, but they have not concluded.

– How about setting up a fence?

– It is not a good alternative. We must constantly balance between accessibility to the fjord and safety. The downside of fencing in is if it means people think you can dive from all areas that are not fenced in. Then we have to fence in an awful lot. Our main message is that diving in the center of Oslo is very risky. Before doing so, you must be absolutely sure of the bottom conditions. We can not part with it.

Kongsteien understands Uusimaa’s frustration and anger after the tragic accident.

He confirms that the municipality, as far as he knows, has not contacted Uusimaa.

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