A woman has spoken out after her ‘dangerous’ stunt made her an online sensation, with her videos sparking an outcry on social media.
Earlier this month, Donna Paysepar uploaded two seperate TikTok videos of herself diving into the Hudson River in New York from a boat.
“Swimming with lady liberty,” she captioned one of the videos, with the Statue of Liberty prominent in the background of both.
The seemingly innocent videos caused a stir on the video sharing platform, for some very serious reasons.
“You’re not supposed to swim in the Hudson,” someone said.
Up until the 1980s, 150 million gallons of raw sewage entered the river daily off Manhattan, until the North River treatment plant started operating.
“Many noxious discharges have ceased, but leftovers from past pollution haunt the Hudson, and new problems are becoming evident,” New York State’s Department of Conservation says on their website.
The first video of Ms Paysepar posted was viewed over 1.7 million times and the second garnered 4.3 million views - suffice to say her stunt sent her viral.
Speaking to NJ Advance, Ms Paysepar said she has a ‘YOLO’ (you only live once) mentality and she expected the stunt to stir up controversy because jumping into the Hudson River is “kind of an outrageous activity”.
She also admitted to the outlet she didn’t actually swim in the river, she was just in and out, but she was satisfied with the response she got.
“When it started getting likes, I was like, ‘OK, this was what I wanted,” the 20-year-old from Long Island told NJ Advance.
The state department does say it is generally okay to jump into the Hudson River on their website, however also warns of other dangers lurking within the waters.
“Official swimming beaches are scarce. At other sites, debris, tidal currents and boat traffic pose dangers. Near Albany, sewage plants do not disinfect their discharges, raising the risk of disease,” the department warns.
“In New York and other cities, rainfall enters storm drains and then flows to sewage treatment plants.
“The combined flows from sewers and storm drains often exceed plant capacities, causing overflows of untreated or poorly treated waste into the Hudson.”
In a statement to NJ Advance, a spokesperson from the department advised those who did choose to swim in the water to not swallow the water.
“It tasted really bad, I got some of it in my mouth,” Ms Paysepar told the publication.
Since sharing the videos of her dip in the Hudson, Ms Paysepar has been responding to comments through other TikTok videos, referencing the Department of Conservation stating it is safe to dive in.
In another video she explained how it “happened”.
“I was really excited I finally came to the Statue of Liberty, and you know, I’d never been up that close and I’m just like, you know what YOLO and I wasn’t thinking about the water I was just like I want to take a cool TikTok jumping in the water,” she said.
“You know, swimming in front of the statue that is so famous.”
She then thanked the “haters”, along with the “lovers and “supporters” and the people who don’t support her.
However, she did tell NJ Advance she would not be diving in the river anytime soon, as she has the memory and she only did it for the TikTok video.
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