Second BASE jumping fatality reported at Zion

Posted at 8:58 AM, Mar 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-24 23:14:08-04

ZION NATIONAL PARK -- Search and Rescue crews are formulating a plan to retrieve the body of a BASE jumper who died in Zion National Park.
Crews spotted the body Sunday, but say he may have been there for several days.

Rangers received the call early Sunday morning that a BASE jumper was overdue from a trip to the park. Search and rescue crews used a helicopter form nearby Grand Canyon National Park, and found the body in the rocky slopes, about 300 feet from the top of West Temple peak.

“It’s in an area where the wind is really bad,” said park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus. “So we have very narrow time frames that we can work -- it’s going to be hard to reach either by foot or by helicopter.”

Baltrus said crews are trying to determine the best way to retrieve the body, which may include a combination of air and ground work. Park officials aren’t releasing the name of the BASE jumper, saying they want to retrieve the body and make a formal identification.

This is the second BASE jumping death in less than two months at the park.

On Feb. 8, Amber Bellows died after her parachute failed to open during a jump with her new husband Clayton Butler. Butler was initially cited for the jump, but federal prosecutors dismissed the charge.

Still, BASE jumping in federal parks is illegal, and Baltrus said park officials continually remind visitors of that fact, not only because of the danger to the BASE jumper, but to rescue crews.

“It really puts our rescuers in a lot of danger,” Baltrus said. “Just going up in helicopters and trying to figure out how to do a recovery.”

Baltrus said crews will continue their efforts to retrieve the body Tuesday morning.