A Utah woman who attempted to BASE jump near Zion National Park died when her parachute failed to open, park authorities reported.
Amber Bellows and Clayton Butler, her husband of two weeks, climbed up Mt. Kinesava, a 7,276-feet peak located in the southern part of the national park famous for its huge red rock formations. The mountain is a plateau, around 3,000 feet high with a 1,000 feet cliff on the east side currently covered with snow.
According to reports, the 28-year-old woman plunged around 2,000 feet to the ground on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 8. The Salt Lake City newly wed couple were experienced BASE jumpers and well known in the community.
BASE jumping involves leaping from buildings or mountains with the use of parachutes to slow down their fall. BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span, Earth, which are the various platforms of the jumpers. It is a risky sport that is "illegal" inside Zion National Park. It was the first time that a jumper has died and Bellow's case is now under investigation.
Butler, 29, told the authorities that Bellows jumped first at 4:00 p.m. but apparently her parachute failed to open. He added he saw this and jumped after her but he was unable to reach her. It was a remote area to find help and hiked for 2 hours past her body. He was able to alert park authorities at around 6:30 p.m.
Park officials started a helicopter search on Sunday morning and the recovery team located Bellows' body at about 10:00 a.m. They hoisted her body from a difficult terrain to a waiting ambulance.
"It is really sad and our condolences go to her family and friends," acting superintendent of Zion National Park said in a statement. "BASE jumping is very dangerous even for those who are experienced, like Amber Bellows. That is one of the reasons it is banned in the park."
"Both Amber and Clayton are experienced, conscientious BASE jumpers and this is a tragic accident," her videographer and manager, Joshua Lloyd said.
"Amber will be missed by the whole community and we ask for respect and privacy for her family at this time."
According to reports, Amber was connected to Skydive Ogden and Skydive Utah in Erda. Representatives from both groups said they were too upset to issue statements. See Amber and Clayton's photos here