An effortless glide down a Utah cliff turned into a deadly situation when a buildings, antennae, span and earth (BASE) jumper hit an adjacent wall and was dangling from his parachute 80 feet above a talus slope. The victim, a 35-year-old man from Australia took the plunge off of The Crown exit point in Kane Creek Canyon, roughly 400 feet off the ground. On his way down, the jumper’s parachute snagged on a jutting piece of the red rock cliff and slammed into the way, completely at the mercy of his gear’s strength.
One of the witnesses of the accident had to drive out of the canyon to get enough service to call it into the authorities. Soon after, though, Grand County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue arrived with an aerial team to the top of the cliff. All the while, a good samaritan climber helped bring the BASE jumper to more stable ground, scaling to his location and tying him into her line before rappelling them both back down to the talus.
At that point, a ground team hiked to the talus and another crew facilitated a technical rope rescue. Thanks to all three parties, they were able to safely bring the BASE jumper to the medical helicopter which then transported him to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. It is unclear if the man was conscious during the rescue.
At the time of his admittance, the 35-year-old man was in critical condition.
Bystander Recallss Watching the BASE Jumper’s Heartpounding Rescue
Among the folks recreating at Kane Creek Canyon was Mitch Edwards, who, with his family, witnessed the BASE jumper’s accident. Just as Edwards and his family were heading out on a hike, they stopped to watch as three jumpers took flight from the cliff’s edge. Two safely made it to the ground, and one remained suspended.
“He just slammed into that thing hard, and then started to fall straight down,” Mitch Edwards told KSLTV. “And he was probably 200-300 feet above the ground when he first hit the cliff.”
“My guess is that he fell close to 100 feet before hitting a ledge, and then that chute snagged on the ledge — miraculously — because on those cliffs, there’s really nothing to snag on. And there happened to be a little outcropping there,” Edwards continued.
Despite the trouble finding service, Edwards reported that rescue teams arrived and performed the rescue rather quickly and commended them for their efforts.
“He would have been dangling for hours and hours and hours and may not have survived,” he said. “So, unbelievable what they were able to do in a very short period of time down there.”
According to Grand County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, Thanksgiving weekend is a popular time for BASE jumpers to gather at Kane Canyon Creek.
“While the vast majority of jumps were completed safely, GCSAR responded to four incidents involving BASE jumpers in a three-day period,” the department reported.