James Hickey: Base jumper who perished after jumping from Idaho bridge intentionally set fire to parachute

Authorities say burning chute was part of stunt

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The Independent US

Authorities have revealed that a 73-year-old Base jumper who died after leaping from an Idaho bridge had set his parachute on fire as part of a stunt.

A video posted online showed flames engulfing the jumper as he stepped from Perrine Bridge into the Snake River, 500 feet below.  James Hickey had apparently planned to ditch the flaming parachute and deploy a second chute in the stunt that took place on 7 May.

Professional extreme athlete Sean Chuma told Twin Falls newspaper the Times-News that he had heard Mr Hickey successfully performed the stunt skydiving.

The initial report from the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office said only that Hickey's parachute deployed too late, the Associated Press said.

The video shows two Base jumpers climbing over the railing of the Perrine Bridge and leaping at about the same time. But while one jumper glides safely away underneath a parachute, the other becomes engulfed in a fireball and falls quickly out of view.

A coroner’s report said Mr Hickey, of Claremont, California, died of blunt force trauma.

Base jumping has come under increased scrutiny as at least five people have died in accidents since January, including two last week at Yosemite National Park.

The acronym “Base” stands for building, antenna, span and earth, the types of places from which jumpers leap. It's illegal in many places but allowed year-round without a permit at the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.

A week after Hickey's death, Carla Jean Segil of Big Bear, California, had to be rescued after her chute got tangled up in the support structure under Perrine Bridge. The 26-year-old dangled for about a half hour before she could be pulled to safety.