Newlywed BASE Jumper Dies When Her Parachute Fails in Zion National Park

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A newlywed BASE jumper died in Zion National Park in southwest Utah over the weekend when her parachute did not open, her husband of two weeks told authorities.


Rescuers responded after a newlywed bride died while BASE jumping in Zion National Park on Feb. 8, 2014. (Credit: National Park Service)

The body of Amber Bellows, 28, of Salt Lake City, was recovered Sunday morning, hours after she fell approximately 2,000 feet from Mount Kinesava (map), the National Park Service stated in a news release Monday.

Her husband, 29-year-old Clayton Butler, had jumped after her but was unable to reach her. He hiked out to get help and notified park officials at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the release stated.

“He stated that her parachute did not open properly and she fell approximately 2,000 feet,” the park service stated, adding that the couple were experience BASE jumpers.

BASE jumping — a dangerous sport that involves jumping from a high spot with a specially designed parachute or sometimes a “wingsuit” — is illegal in Zion National Park.

Mount Kinesava, the peak Bellows jumped from, tops out at nearly 7,300 feet.

Bellows’ death was the first fatality from BASE jumping in the popular national park, the park service stated.

“It is just really sad and our condolences go out to her family and friends,” acting park Superintendent Jim Milestone said in the statement. “BASE jumping is so dangerous. Even for those that are experienced, like Amber Bellows. That is one of the reasons it is not allowed in the park.”

Grand Canyon National Park provided helicopter support, with two rangers hoisting Bellows’ body from a remote spot in difficult terrain to a waiting ambulance, according to the news release.

Officials waited until the next day to recover Bellows’ body to avoid risk to rescuers “since it was a recovery and not a rescue,” the news release stated.

The death was under investigation, the park service stated.

“Both Clayton and Amber are conscientious, experienced BASE jumpers and this was a tragic accident,” Joshua Lloyd, Bellows’ manager and videographer, told CNN. “Amber will be missed throughout the entire community and we ask for privacy and respect for the family at this time.”

Bellows’ jump looked fine at first, but her main parachute didn’t deploy properly, Lloyd said he’d been told, according to CNN.