BASE jumper dies in B.C. after parachute apparently fails to deploy: RCMP

By on June 26, 2016

Stawamus Chief Mountain (Photo: Public Domain)
Stawamus Chief Mountain (Photo: Public Domain)

SQUAMISH, B.C.—A BASE jumper has died in a plunge from a popular British Columbia mountain, after the parachute apparently failed to open until it was too late, Mounties say.

The person jumped from the first peak of the Stawamus Chief Mountain, a busy spot for outdoors enthusiasts near Squamish, north of Vancouver, just before 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Witnesses told police the person’s parachute did not open until significantly after the jump, and the person fell near the Sea-to-Sky Highway below, said Squamish RCMP.

Sgt. Jolaine Percival said no further information about the person will be released while family members are being notified.

She said she believes the BASE jumper was with a group, and the community of people who enjoy the activity is a tight-knit one.

“It’s an adventurous kind of district that we live in, and people from all around the world flock to partake in activities like this,” she said.

“Now, it’s just ensuring that we deal with the family and get all the BASE jumper’s belongings back to the family.”

The B.C. Coroner’s Service has been called to the scene.

Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman said she was shocked and saddened by the death.

“Your thoughts immediately go to, ‘Was it a person in the community? Did you know them?’ We’re a pretty small, tight-knit community here,” she said. “You think about this person and their family, and it’s very sad.”

Heintzman said she believes BASE jumping is legal in the provincial park that includes the Stawamus Chief, and it would be difficult for her district to regulate the activity.

“People who do these extreme sports know the risks they’re taking, have prepared tremendously to do them, and you just have to hope they’re doing things within their skill set.”

“I don’t think you can prevent people from trying to push the limits.”

BASE jumping is when people jump from a fixed structure or cliff using a parachute or wingsuit. It’s considered more dangerous than skydiving due to the relatively low altitude of the jumps.

The first peak of the Stawamus Chief towers about 540 metres above the highway. The granite cliff draws scores of hikers and climbers daily, and has become a draw for extreme sports fans as well.

A 40-year-old Squamish man died after plunging from the mountain last July while speed flying, a sport similar to paragliding.