An experienced female BASE jumper drowned in a tragic accident at Big Sur in California, and police say her last moments were captured on a friend’s GoPro camera. However, the tragedy didn’t end with the death of the young woman. The woman’s male BASE jumping friend saw the wave overtake her below and jumped off the bridge in a bid to save her life. Sadly, he was unable to save the woman and also drowned.
KION reports that a young woman in her 20s, Mary Katherine “Katie” Connell, is presumed dead after a BASE jumping accident near Big Sur. The woman was described by friends as an experienced BASE jumper with over 300 jumps under her belt. The young woman, who was also a nurse, jumped from the Bixby Bridge near Big Sur, descending 300 feet into the river below. However, after landing in the river, a series of large waves overtook the woman and she was apparently taken out into the Pacific Ocean.
Upon seeing that the woman was in distress, her partner, who was a BASE jumping instructor from Finland, jumped into the river below in an attempt to save the young woman. However, he was unable to save her and also perished. According to police investigating the Big Sur BASE jumping accident, the whole ordeal was captured on the GoPro camera footage of the Finnish friend of Connell, who died trying to save the young women in his last heroic effort.
The Daily Mail notes that the police recovered the GoPro camera, along with the man’s parachute and helmet, at the top of the bridge. The footage allegedly shows Connell jump from the Bixby Bridge into the river below. She appeared to have landed successfully. However, the footage showed the waves in the river quickly overtake her before she disappears, allegedly washing out into the Pacific Ocean. After the woman disappears, her partner strips off his helmet, camera, and parachute and jumps into the water to save the woman.
Unfortunately, the man would be unable to save the young woman and would die alongside her in the tragic Big Sur BASE jumping accident. Tom Aiello, a friend of both of the victims, says, “Two beautiful people are gone,” and noted that both were very experienced BASE jumpers. However, rescue crews say that no amount of BASE jumping knowledge could have prevented the tragedy. The surf and waves were considered highly dangerous at the time of the jump, and with the river feeding into the Pacific Ocean, even the most experienced BASE jumper should not have attempted to land in the rough waters.
Sheriff Steve Bernal notes that anyone near the water is at risk, and that BASE jumping into volatile waters like that near Big Sur puts rescuers at risk because of recent storms and King tides.
“When you have jumps like this that are not successful, then we’re putting our search and rescue team, we’re putting their lives in danger searching for people when they get lost in the surf. And just people merely standing on the rocks, just sightseeing, or when they get swept out to sea, we’re putting our lives in danger trying to retrieve them.”
Neither of the BASE jumpers bodies have been found. However, based on the GoPro video footage, rescuers say that both Connell and her partner are presumed dead. Meanwhile, Katie’s friend and family are taking to social media to celebrate the woman they say was “drunk on life” and lived life to the fullest. A celebration of life is scheduled on Saturday, January 30, 2016, at Hardin Valley Church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee.
[Image via Facebook/Katie Connell]