BASE jumper escapes death, serious injury after 1,000-foot leap goes awry

BASE jumper Matthew Gough is fortunate to be alive and to have escaped serious injury after careening nearly 1,000 feet down a cliff face when his parachute failed to open properly during a recent excursion in Italy. He captured his misadventure on video and viewers can hear Gough begin to scream when he realizes he won’t be floating gently to earth.

The 25-year-old daredevil’s parachute opened backward, and the lines became twisted. He reached speeds of about 40 mph and ultimately landed in a heap—and in a great deal of pain—but with only minor injuries.

As his crash-landing became imminent, Gough saw several metal spikes sticking out of the ground. One of them ripped the helmet from his head but somehow missed his flesh.

Gough, who had previously made 180 successful jumps at locations around the world, explained what happened during the errant jump above Italy’s Lake Garda:

“Everything was going fine and then I pulled the parachute. The problem was the deployment was really slow. It comes down to simple bad luck, nothing else. The conditions were fine. The parachute twisted, and when it inflated it was facing backward.

“Due to the twists, I couldn't control it. I did the best I could with the situation and tried to avoid the cliff, but I didn’t have the time or the space to avoid the impact.

“When I impacted the first time, I started spinning, which made the situation worse. The parachute twisted even more before going into a dive and then spiralled toward the ground while I was smashing against the cliff.

“I was trying to think about what to do, but all I could think about was trying to stay alive. I knew the final impact was coming soon and I knew if I hit the floor at the speed I was traveling, I was in a whole lot of trouble.

“I managed to hang off one side of the canopy and get away from the cliff but couldn't control it still. I didn't know if I was going to hit the floor or go into the lake….”

He concluded: “When I hit the floor, I was so shocked I was alive. I was thinking, I’ve seen this stuff on videos but now it’s happening to me. I was in total shock that I was alive—that was when the pain set in.”

Gough was briefly hospitalized for observation but has since returned home to Lichfield, England. He says he’ll continue to BASE jump despite pleas from his parents for him to stop.