BASE jumper fatality sparks calls for a crackdown

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The death last week of an American man who hurled himself off a steep mountain in a so-called BASE jump has set off new calls for the extreme sport to be banned. Neighbours who witnessed the accident don’t want any more.

“We heard a terrible sound,” one witness told newspaper Bergens Tidende. “I saw him crash into the mountainside.” The fatality occurred at Gudvangen in Aurland, in the mountains of western Norway.

One witness reported that five people jumped together, later found to be a mix of Norwegians and foreign visitors to Norway. The parachute of one of them failed to open, and state broadcaster NRK said the jumper was instantly killed when he crashed into the base of a mountain near a residential area. NRK reported Sunday evening that the victim was identified as Micah Couch, a 32-year-old American living in Dubai. He was described as “very experienced and an extremely clever” BASE jumper. His colleagues were grieving his loss.

Local residents and officials are worried about the rising numbers of rescue operations that must be mounted when BASE jumpers who willingly subject themselves to danger end up being seriously injured or killed. One local mayor wants to restrict or ban the sport.

An organized week of extreme sports was underway in nearby Voss last week, but a representative said it had no activities going on at Gudvangen and was not involved in the accident. staff

  • Moomin

    Not sure how ‘the rising numbers’ are, but if more than one person dies in a year it does not necessarily warrant a ban on whatever-it-is. Should that ban apply to all activities that involve a parachute, or even anything that’s in the air?

  • Christian Wuethrich

    Base jump remains a dangerous activity even if year after year it is becoming safer. The difficulty for local community is that the rescue organisation is not prepared to cope with base jump causalities or difficulty to access to injured people. The death of a base jumper in Zakintos few years ago is a good example. A better preparation of the rescue team could have made possible to save the jumper. However, difficulties in public founding in Greece was probably a limiting factor to a good preparation of the fire-fighters involved in the unsuccessful rescue.