Twin Falls, Idaho has become a Mecca in the sport of BASE jumping. It’s one of the only legal places to jump in the country and pilots from around the world come to Twin Falls to train on the Perrine Bridge, which crosses some 500 feet above the Snake River and its lava rock-lined canyon.
Last week, professional BASE jumper Austin Carey was doing something he’s done hundreds, maybe thousands of times. Jumping into the Snake River Canyon with friends. According to reports and a Facebook post from his cousin, Carey probably wasn’t jumping off the bridge but had jumped with a friend from a different “exit point” the two had scouted out further up the canyon (they were apparently upriver from Perrine, above Pillar Falls).
According to the post, Carey and his friend landed successfully but on the wrong side of the river to access their vehicles and hike out. His friend swam across the river while Carey apparently didn’t feel comfortable swimming the broad stretch of water with his BASE gear. He reportedly handed his gear to a passing kayaker to take across for him and then went looking for another way to get across the river. That was Thursday afternoon. He hasn’t been seen since.
Search and rescue was called later that day (around 3 p.m.) before the search was called off Friday morning. Family members and members of the community told local media they felt the search had been called off too soon and are pleading with the Bureau of Reclamation to reduce water levels for recovery efforts as they fear Carey somehow might’ve drowned trying to get across the Snake River.
“For our search efforts to unfortunately – but realistically – to move to recovery, for that to be safe for the rescuers and give our family and this community some closure and peace, we really appeal to the Bureau of Reclamation to please reduce the water down to 300 (CFS),” Tammy Davis, Carey’s cousin said in a tearful statement.
According to his Instagram page and Website, the 29-year-old Carey was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana and moved to Twin Falls when he got into BASE jumping. He suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury as well as a traumatic brain injury after an accident on the Perrine Bridge in 2014 but had since fully recovered, traveling the world to chase his passion.