Two BASE jumpers died in separate incidents over the weekend in Canada and Norway, further underscoring just how dangerous of a sport BASE jumping is.
On Sunday, near the town of Squamish in British Columbia, 30-year-old Gary Kremer of Seattle died when his parachute failed to open in time during a BASE jump from the top of the Stawamus Chief granite dome.
Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman told the Canadian Press that, while the accident was tragic, BASE jumping is legal in the park that Kremer leapt from, and that there is little she can do to dissuade people from pursuing the sport.
“People who do these extreme sports know the risks they’re taking, have prepared tremendously to do them, and you just have to hope they’re doing things within their skill set,” Heintzman told the Canadian Press. “I don’t think you can prevent people from trying to push the limits.”
Following his death, Kremer’s girlfriend told the National Post that he had been BASE jumping for nine years and was very passionate about it. She said she hoped his death didn’t make people think badly about his sport.
“I just really want to make sure people don't look at this sport negatively because of what happened to him,” said Anderson. “He loved it and he would not have changed a thing. He would have kept jumping for the rest of his life … He was free. He could fly. It was a feeling he couldn't get anywhere else.”
— Hanold Associates (@HanoldHR) June 26, 2016
Also on Sunday, Michael Leming, a former executive at Nike and a well respected member of the Portland Mountain Rescue team in Oregon died while BASE jumping in Norway’s Lysebotn Fjord when his parachute also failed to open. He had just turned 53 five days prior to his death.
Leming, the Chief Talent Scout for Nike for 15 years, left his job in 2015 to spend more time pursuing his passions outdoors. One of those passions was mountain rescue, a pursuit that Leming gained notoriety for, frequently embarking on daring, life-threatening rescue missions on Mount Hood in Oregon to help keep others safe.
“Michael, you lived larger than all the rest of us, you pulled as hard as anyone on the team, you demonstrated deep generosity, you cheered loudly for the underdog,” Portland Mountain Rescue wrote in a tribute to Leming on its Facebook page. “And you loved freely your friends, of which there are many.”
Joe Donlon, an anchor at Portland’s KGW-TV, also penned a tribute to his friend on Facebook, recalling a time when Leming ignored warnings and went up Mount Hood to recover the body of a deceased climber so the climber’s family could have his wedding ring to remember him by.
In a statement to The Oregonian, Nike extended its condolences to Leming and his family.
“Nike extends its deepest sympathies to Michael Leming’s family and friends,” the company said in a statement. “Michael had a true adventurous spirit and was always inspired by the challenges in front of him.”
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