BASE Jumper Tragically Dies After Setting Parachute on Fire in Stunt Gone Wrong
A 73-year-old BASE jumper died Thursday while leaping off a bridge in Twins Falls, Idaho, into Snake River after his parachute deployed too late, local authorities said.
The Twins Falls County Sheriff’s Office identified the thrill-seeker as James E. Hickey of Claremont, Calif. Hickey had done about 1,000 BASE jumps—which involve parachuting from fixed structures like bridges, buildings and cliffs—since taking up the sport about 10 years ago, Tom Aiello, a friend and local BASE jumping instructor, told.
Authorities say the fatality at Perrine Bridge was the second in the area so far this year, after 32-year-old Bryan Turner of Vancouver, British Columbia, died in March following a similar stunt.
Turner’s death was the first BASE jumping fatality at the bridge site in four years.
Those in the BASE jumping community are aware of the stunt James Hickey attempted, and it was planned by James, also being fully aware of the implications if not successful. Recent video footage surfacing online shows the tragic events.
The stunt consists of three basic moves, where the parachute would be lit on fire at the time of the jump, then initiate and intentional disconnection of the burning chute, and deploy a second chute before landing safely.
While there are examples of this being done in a skydiving sense from much higher altitudes, the decision to leap from a lower altitude created almost no drag from the second, and not inflating at all. The parachute did not disconnect in time, and the jumper did not have sufficient time for his main chute to open.