The New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, West Virginia is one of only two legal places to BASE jump in the United States (the other being the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho). BLM and Forest Service land is also considered legal. But that status is why the New River Gorge Bridge attracts so many aficionados of BASE sport.
And Saturday was extra special as it marked the return of “Bridge Day,” an annual BASE jumping festival that had been on hiatus for the last two years. Organizers expected the festival to attract 100,000 spectators to watch the jumps with cars lining the nearby interstate for a mile in both directions. Jumpers came from all over the world to enjoy the festival and reconnect with the BASE community.
But things almost went terribly wrong for these two unidentified jumpers, who took off too close to one another. In the video shot by Kyle Tunison, you can see one of the BASE jumpers actually hits the other’s parachute, and with only around eight seconds to pull the chute, time is of the essence. Thankfully, these two barely avoid deadly disaster as the second BASE jumper manages to release his chute despite spinning wildly out of control.
Accidents come often in this sport. Climbing legend Dean Potter perished in Yosemite in 2015 after a wingsuit accident. Perrine Bridge in Idaho has been the site of many accidents as well. In June of 2020, BASE jumper Austin Carey disappeared into the Snake River after landing in the water, seemingly unharmed. It was eventually determined that he’d drowned.