SALT LAKE CITY -- He watched his new bride plunge to her death in a BASE jumping accident. Now, Clayton Butler is hoping to turn tragedy into something positive.
Butler is fundraising for causes that Amber Bellows cared about.
Their relationship revolved around the outdoors and thrill seeking. Butler met Amber Bellows four years ago at a skydiving facility in Tooele.
“She was going there to do her first jump course and I noticed her,” Clayton Butler said.
They dated three years, and BASE jumping became a big part of their lives.They’d record those death-defying moments, including right after they married in late January. The couple jumped 27 stories from their hotel room at the MGM Signature in Las Vegas.
Excited to start their new lives together, they tried another jump during a weekend getaway in early February. It was at Mount Kinesava at Zion National Park.
“We jumped off that same cliff,” Butler said.
Photographs show them happy and smiling just before the jump February 8.
“She was happy the moment she jumped off that cliff, you should have seen the smile on her face,” Butler said.
He said his wife deployed her parachute too late. Butler watched her hit the ground, then jumped to the bottom and realized she was gone.
“You can’t forget this kind of stuff,” he said.
It’s illegal to BASE jump at a national park, the U.S. Attorney says. Adding to Butler’s loss, park officials initially cited him--but the feds quickly dropped the misdemeanor charge.
Amber Bellows was only 28 years old, previously a volunteer for the Utah Humane Society.
“She just wanted to spread happiness and peace through the whole world,” Butler said.
Now, as he begins an ambitious fundraising effort, a Salt Lake City screen printing shop has become part of Butler's healing process.
"It helps with the grieving. It keeps me busy," he said.
Butler is selling T-shirts and stickers to raise money for good causes. Sales from these products will help two organizations, including "Whole Planet" which offers financial help to the poor overseas.
"If I can do something to raise money for them to save their life and get them food and clean water and save these animals from being hurt or euthanized, that's where the money needs to go," Butler said.
More than a month after the accident, his bride's initials and a tear drop are tattooed where he wore his wedding band.
Between the stickers, T-shirts and a website, Butler has raised nearly $12,000 but hopes to raise $100,000 and split it three ways. Some of the money will go the search and rescue team at Zion National Park who helped recover his bride's body.
“The three men that brought Amber off that mountain, there’s not enough money that could be given to them to repay the debt I owe to them,” Butler said.
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