Extreme athlete Dean Potter, who gained notoriety two years ago when he filmed his dog taking a BASE jump along with him, was killed last night in an accident at Yosemite National Park.
Potter and another jumper, Graham Hunt, were both killed when they took a 3,000-foot plunge off Taft Point, ABC News reports.
BASE jumping (the name is an acronym for building, antenna, span and earth) involves jumping off a fixed object and using a parachute to break the fall. It is illegal in all national parks.
The sport’s risk of death is one in every 2,300 jumps, according to Bandolier, a healthcare journal written by University of Oxford scientists. As a comparison, for skydiving, the risk is one in 101,083 jumps.
“There are very few BASE jumpers with more than 500 jumps who have not spent serious time in the hospital due to BASE accidents,” noted the Snake River BASE Academy in an ESPN story about the sport. “Most agree that it is just a matter of time until they are seriously injured. If you are not ready to die BASE jumping, you are not ready to go BASE jumping.”
In 2013, wearing a tandem wingsuit, Potter BASE jumped off the 13,000-foot Eiger in Switzerland with his dog Whisper, a Miniature Australian Cattle Dog. Many people, myself included, thought the stunt was cruel rather than cool.
“She used to get real rigid wearing [the harness], a sign that she’s nervous,” Potter told Climbing in 2013. “But now she’s quite used to it. She’s pretty loose.”
Eerily, Whisper’s first BASE jump was in the same park where Potter was killed.
“Her first flight was Half Dome,” Potter told Climbing. “Yosemite has the safest cliffs in the world — El Cap and Half Dome — to BASE jump. I think we’ve done seven jumps now. I jump daily, so Whisper doesn’t go on all the flights. She only goes on the very safest ones — big-mountain flights.”
It’s unfortunate that Potter has become yet another BASE jumping statistic. But fortunately for Whisper, she was not strapped to her dog dad when he plunged to his death.
Photo via YouTube