An Ohio man BASE jumping from West Virginia's New River Gorge Bridge early Saturday morning missed his landing spot and got tangled in some trees before releasing himself from his harness and falling some 40 feet.
According to a report today by the National Park Service, 33-year-old Shannon Murphy, of Wadsworth, launched into the darkness at 1:40 A.M. The sky was overcast and the gorge was full of fog, making it nearly impossible for him to see his landing zone.
After friends John Maggio, 37, and Andrew Pulton, 20, placed a 911 call, rescuers including a team of rangers, county police, fire and EMS personnel got to Murphy, who was semi-conscious and suffering from a severe head injury and a fractured arm, 45 minutes later. He was stabilized and taken to a local hospital before being transferred to a trauma center in Charleston, West Virginia.
The NPS report stated that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the accident.
Murphy will be charged with illegal aerial moves; Maggio has been charged with aiding and abetting. An investigation is underway.
Four men caught BASE jumping off the Virginia's New River Gorge Bridge in December were fined $600 a piece after pleading guilty to aerial delivery in a magistrate's court. Tourists visiting the Fayette Station area of the New River Gorge National River snapped photos of two of the four jumpers in mid-air and dialed 911 as the group was still free falling towards the gorge floor. Rangers and several law enforcement agents were dispatched to the scene and, aided by vehicle-descriptions given by the tourists in a second 911 call , - apprehended the men.
BASE jumping from the New River Gorge Bridge is illegal except for one day of the year, when the annual Bridge Day is held. The 2001 Bridge Day is scheduled for October 20.