Ramón Rojas dead: Record-breaking base jumper killed in Switzerland wingsuit accident

The Chilean ambassador for the sport was nicknamed “The Birdman”

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The Independent Online

Record-breaking base jumper Ramón Rojas has died while flying using a wingsuit in Switzerland.

The 35-year-old, who was known as “The Birdman” and “Chapa”, was practicing for a competition in Lauterbrunnen on Saturday when the accident happened.

A newspaper in his native Chile, La Tercera, reported that preliminary information indicated high winds may have caused Mr Rojas to lose control and crash.

ProBASE World Cup officials confirmed the tragedy on Facebook, calling him an “ambassador” for base jumping.

“Yet another one of our brothers has left us way too early,” a statement said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Fly free Chapa!”

Mr Rojas’ death came almost exactly a month after he broke the world record for the highest wingsuit ski base jump by leaping 4,100 metres from Cerro El Plomo in the Andes on 21 August.

His sister, Paula Rojas, wrote on Facebook: “My heart is broken but it gives me peace to know that my brother was happy doing what he loved so passionately.

“He was happy and will carry on smiling from where he is, with the rest of the birds.”

Tributes were pouring in on Sunday from hundreds of other base jumpers and fans, with many leaving messages on a Facebook page called “Ramon Rojas memorial to celebrate his awesome life”.

The founder, Monica Vasquez Burrier, wrote: “We all were proud of him, our ambassador in many countries, always putting Chile in the highest BASE places.

“I felt honoured with your friendship, you were pure energy of joy, kindness and the best values in a man.

“Fly free forever my friend. you will be deeply missed by many people you touched with your light.”

According to a profile on his website, Base Jump Chile, he was inspired by Canadian Shane McConkey, a base jumper and professional skier who died in 2009 in a wingsuit accident in the Italian Dolomite Mountains.

Born in Chile’s Cachapoal Valley, it says he grew up exploring and fell in love with the mountains at an early age, vowing to “enjoy every minute surrounded by nature”.

He was a rescue volunteer for the national ski rescue patrol and studied dentistry before giving it up to pursue professional base jumping.