TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A 73-year-old BASE jumper who died after leaping from an Idaho bridge had set his parachute on fire as part of a stunt, authorities say.
A graphic video of the fatal jump, posted to YouTube on Monday, shows someone engulfed in flames and falling from the Perrine Bridge into the Snake River, 500 feet below.
James E. Hickey, of Claremont, California, had apparently planned to ditch the flaming parachute and deploy a second chute in the May 7 stunt.
The initial report from the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office said only that Hickey’s parachute deployed too late, and the coroner said Hickey died of blunt-force trauma.
Professional BASE jumper Sean Chuma told Twin Falls newspaper The Times-News (http://bit.ly/1S9aQPb ) that he had heard Hickey successfully performed the stunt while skydiving.
The video shows two BASE jumpers climbing over the railing of the Perrine Bridge and leaping around the same time. While one jumper glides safely away underneath a parachute, the other becomes engulfed in flames and falls quickly out of view.
The video pans back to the river just after the burning jumper hits the water. A boat arrives seconds later, and the video ends.
BASE jumping has come under increased scrutiny as at least five people have died in accidents since January, including two last week at Yosemite National Park.
The acronym “BASE” stands for building, antenna, span and Earth, the types of places from which jumpers leap, such as bridges and cliffs. It’s illegal in many places but allowed year-round without a permit at the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.
Hundreds of people jump from the bridge every year, and injuries are common.
Bryan Turner, 32, of Vancouver, British Columbia, died March 9 after jumping from the bridge because his parachute didn’t open properly.
A week after Hickey’s death, Carla Jean Segil of Big Bear, California, had to be rescued after her chute got tangled up in the support structure under the bridge. The 26-year-old dangled for about half an hour before she could be pulled to safety.
In the deadly Yosemite jump, well-known extreme athlete Dean Potter, 43, and Graham Hunt, 29, leaped illegally from a cliff and died when they hit the rocks. The men were wearing wingsuits, bat-like gear that allows them to stay aloft longer and control their flight path.
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