Volunteers tending a bungee jumper's cord apparently let out too much line, causing her to plummet headfirst into the Superdome floor, The Times-Picayune reported Sunday.
The newspaper quoted police sources as saying that the rope and pulley used to feed line to Laura Patterson showed no obvious problem, although experts had not been called in to examine it.Patterson, 43, of Sarasota, Fla., died Thursday night of head injuries.
She was one of eight bungee jumpers who were to bounce twice, performing acrobatics, and then be lowered simultaneously to the ground along the football field's sidelines. But Patterson hit the ground on her second dive in a final rehearsal for a segment of the Super Bowl's halftime show. The segment was scrapped after her death, attributed to a massive head injury.
A police spokesman did not return a call Sunday for comment about the newspaper's report.
It said an official at Branam Enterprises, a San Fernando, Calif., company, told police that a rigger and a back-up rigger, both volunteers, were controlling the rope attached to Patterson's harness.
Company officials told police they had expected local experts to act as riggers, but found only volunteers, the newspaper said.
Why Branam had to rely on volunteers and whether this was unusual was unclear. Phones at Branam Enterprises were not answered Sunday.
Volunteer riggers who were working another performer's line have told police that the job was simple, and that all of the volunteers were accomplished bungee jumpers, unidentified sources told the newspaper.
Police investigators had not been able to reach the two riggers assigned to Patterson, but did not believe they were trying to avoid police interviews, the newspaper said.
Patterson was an accomplished circus aerialist, but had never bungee jumped before she was hired last week for the Super Bowl job.