I'd rather just go quietly in my sleep...
FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - A parachutist who jumped to his death from a bridge during a festival when his chute opened too late was a retired police lieutenant and an outdoor enthusiast, a former colleague said.
Brian Lee Schubert, 66, died of injuries suffered when he hit the water 876 feet below the New River Gorge Bridge during the annual Bridge Day festival on Saturday, said Fayette County Sheriff Bill Laird.
Schubert, of Alta Loma, Calif., had been well known in the sport of BASE jumping since 1966, when he and a friend became the first people to jump from El Capitan, a nearly 3,000-foot-tall rock formation, in California's Yosemite National Park.
The sport's acronym stands for the places jumpers usually leap from: buildings, antennae, spans and earth.
Schubert retired from the Pomona, Calif., police department in 1989.
Thousands of people witnessed the jump.
Lew Whitener, a newspaper photographer covering the annual Bridge Day festival for the Register-Herald of Beckley, said it appeared Schubert's chute didn't start to open until he was about 25 feet above the water. The crowd gave a collective gasp, he said.
"It was everybody kind of held their breath then an eerie silence afterward. Everybody kind of looked at each other and said 'Wow,'" Whitener said.
I think these crazy adrenaline junkies have to continually ratchet up the danger level to keep getting the risk-high. For BASE jumpers, apparently that means pulling the rip cord later and later in the jump. I guess 25 feet of altitude, approaching terminal velocity, is a tad late to deploy the chute.