BASE Jumper Dies: 73-Year-Old Thrill-Seeker Killed When Parachute Opens Too Late

A BASE jumper died after plunging off an Idaho bridge popular with thrill seekers, the second time in a matter of weeks that a jumper was killed in the same spot.

James Hickey, a 73-year-old man from Claremont, California, had participated in more than 1,000 jumps over the past several decades, but it appears to be faulty equipment that led to his death this week. Authorities said the BASE jumper’s parachute opened too late, and he died after falling more than 500 feet into the Snake River.

The BASE jumper who died was the second thrill-seeker killed on the Perrine Bridge in recent weeks. In March, a 32-year-old man from Vancouver, British Columbia, died when his parachute never opened.

Overall the bridge has a good record for safety, with more than 500 people jumping off it each year and few fatalities. Before the death in March, it had been four years since anyone was killed.

Perrine Bridge is especially popular with BASE jumpers because, unlike many other tall structures, it is completely legal to jump from it. BASE is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans, and Earth, with jumpers often entering places illegally to get their thrills.

Because of their often-illegal nature, BASE jumps can tend to be dangerous. Aside from the smaller margin for error that comes with jumping off a stationary object, the illegal nature often means jumpers have to sneak onto these heights.

This is not the first BASE jumping death to make headlines this year. Before the fatal jump off the Perrine Bridge in March, there was another fatal incident in January. A 31-year-old BASE jumper was killed when he plunged 1,000 feet off a television tower in Michigan and his parachute failed to open.

The jumper, Josh Sheppard, reportedly went to the tower alone and told no one of his plans to jump. An employee of the ABC affiliate reportedly found Sheppard’s body and called police.

“We are saddened to learn about this tragic loss of life. Our station offers its deepest condolences to Joshua Sheppard’s family and loved ones,” Shields Media said in a statement.

The man’s death was ultimately ruled an accident.

After the 73-year-old BASE jumper died, a boat picked up his body from the Snake River.

[Image via Wikipedia]