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skysurfNJ

Bridge Day 2006 Fatality

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However, I do not agree with the comment further up (base rigger's one) that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using skydiving gear on this object, properly rigged or not - especially on high profile jumps (obviouly not in reference to this particular jump, but to bridge day in general).



How many BASE jumps do you have? How many with SD gear and how many with BASE gear and what are your rigging qualifications?

This is getting off topic by the way...

Brian was jumping BASE gear.
You know you have a problem when maggot is the voice of reason at the exit points

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This is getting off topic by the way...



Indeed, you are correct.

Some people seem to want nothing more than an opportunity to apportion blame. To them, I would say this:

Last year, Brian made the decision not to jump. It was his decision. There wasn't anyone I know of who told him that he could not jump or should not jump--he decided not to jump.

This year, Brian made the decision to jump, and he did jump, and he died. Jean is quoted as saying she told him not to, and maybe she did, but it wasn't her decision to make. It was his decision.

What part of personal responsibility is eluding the lot of you?

At NRG alone, there are plenty of examples of very experienced, very current base jumpers who were nothing more than very, very lucky--they ought to be dead, but for some inexplicable reason, they're not.

For brand-new jumpers, it's a very simple process: launch, count, pitch. Speaking as one who had way less than 50 skydives and who was, iirc, three months from being current when I made my first jump at Bridge Day, you will never convince me that Brian is dead because he lacked experience or currency.

You never know what's going on inside another person's head, which is why you cannot decide for someone else what they should do. Brian, as was his right, made a bad decision and he paid for it. That's not a good reason for the blamers among you to insist that others pay for it too.

rl
If you don't know where you're going, you should know where you came from. Gullah Proverb

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"you will never convince me that Brian is dead because he lacked experience or currency."
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That does not make sense to me.
-

" You never know what's going on inside another person's head, which is why you cannot decide for someone else what they should do."
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It is right that this is not a blame game. Shit happens. and happens to good people every day.
You are wrong about what was going on. Apparently there was 'Nothing' going on in the deceased head. He is not the first person to ever brain-lock and do absolutely Nothing when he apparently was sensory overloaded with the situation. Brain-Lock and freezing up is doing something but at the same time, it's Nothing. and doing 'nothing' is what killed him.
,

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Having been there and gotten Mike Pelkey to sign my copy of his El Cap #1 award... Having to drive back the film crew who were at the bottom and who filmed everything and driving them back to the hotel... Knowing that Brian's family was there... Knowing that Mike was at the top when it happened... Consoling the jumper who trained Brian... Drinking a beer with the woman ate breakfast with him and spent time with him before it happened, and who saw the accident from the top... Seeing Jean Boenish go into a stunned mode... This is one of the most tragic jump accidents I have experienced in a long time, if not ever. :(
Looks like a death sandwich without the bread - Steve Deadman Morrell, BASE 174

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"you will never convince me that Brian is dead because he lacked experience or currency"

Sorry, I have to strongly disagree. I was there and saw what happened from the bridge, I have very limited experience but I believe it has been very valuable experience. I am CONVINCED, in my mind, he died because he lacked currency and/or experience. I could certainly be wrong but from my observation he looked like he hadn't ever jumped off of anything. His "Pull priority" was non-existent. (pull, pull at a safe altitude, pull stable)

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"you will never convince me that Brian is dead because he lacked experience or currency."
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That does not make sense to me.



You have to turn your monitor sideways when you read my posts, Ray. You know that. :)

Brian didn't die because he lacked experience or because he wasn't current. He died because he brainlocked.

More to the point, neither currency nor experience prevents brainlock, nor does the lack thereof cause it. If that were the case, then a whole lot of dead skydivers and basejumpers would still be here, and a lot of skydivers and basejumpers who are still here would be dead.

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" You never know what's going on inside another person's head, which is why you cannot decide for someone else what they should do."
.
It is right that this is not a blame game. Shit happens. and happens to good people every day.
You are wrong about what was going on. Apparently there was 'Nothing' going on in the deceased head. He is not the first person to ever brain-lock and do absolutely Nothing when he apparently was sensory overloaded with the situation. Brain-Lock and freezing up is doing something but at the same time, it's Nothing. and doing 'nothing' is what killed him.
,



I agree with you completely, on both counts, but the point I'm most concerned with right now is the first one. There are people who seem to want to find a place to lay blame, and that is why, even though I no longer post here, I posted here.

I used to think the internet was a great communication tool, but at the moment, it appears to me that it does nothing more than allow a voice to people who are either two fries short of a Happy Meal or who have all the brains that God promised a Big Mac and, in some cases, both.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Brian's death is not the appropriate occasion for the disgruntled to have their petty revenge against those they believe to have slighted them.
If you don't know where you're going, you should know where you came from. Gullah Proverb

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edit to add: I listened to the audio of the interview before his jump, it was very surreal.


Video (THEY DO NOT SHOW HIS JUMP)
http://mfile.akamai.com/21772/wmv/gannett.download.akamai.com/21772/streaming/bestmonth06/bridgeday.asx



Article in the army times:
http://armytimes.com/static.php?f=bestmonth06.php

Witness to tragedy


Top: Jumpers leap over the edge of the New River Gorge Bridge as part of Bridge Day festivities on October 21. Bottom: A jumper comes in for a landing.-- M. Scott Mahaskey / Staff

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — It is with the utmost regret and sadness that we have to end our “Best Month Ever” coverage on a solemn note.

If you follow BASE jumping at all, or saw any national news over the weekend, you’ve probably already heard that jumper Brian Lee Schubert, 66, fell to his death during the annual Bridge Day event at the New River Gorge Bridge.

Known as one of the pioneers of the sport, Schubert and a friend in 1966 became the first people to jump from El Capitan, a 3,300-foot-high rock formation in California’s Yosemite National Park. His attendance at this year’s event — where hundreds of BASE jumpers fling themselves off the 876-foot-high bridge to the delight of more than 200,000 awed spectators — was so anticipated that organizers mentioned it during the Friday press conference and media roundtable.

I wish I could tell you that we missed it, that Scott and I were looking away or buying hot dogs at the time, but we were standing in the jumper landing zone along the New River, maybe 40 yards away, bearing witness to the whole thing. Schubert jumped and kept falling, creating an audible stir in the crowd, until his chute partially-opened far too late to stop his descent.

From the top of the bridge to impact is less than nine seconds. That’s not a lot of time to solve any problems.

A woman who knew Schubert screamed and rushed toward the water, where she was consoled by workers on the scene. We never learned who she was, but it was obvious that she cared about him.

The fall occurred about 11:45 a.m., almost halfway through the day’s events, and jumping was suspended for about 20 minutes while rescue teams worked to recover Schubert’s body from the river. It took about an hour for event coordinators to confirm his death to the media, but none of the reporters and photographers who saw the landing believed it would end on a positive note.

To their credit, the jumpers carried on the tradition that Schubert helped begin with his California jump in 1966. After 40 years of leaping off of tall objects, he most certainly knew the dangers involved.

BASE jumpers are a tight group, and they believe in the sport, despite the dangers. I doubt Schubert would have wanted them to cancel anything because of him.

Considering that, we went ahead with plans for our final “Best Month Ever” video, spotlighting the spectacle that is “Bridge Day.” The largest BASE jumping event in the world, it’s also generally very, very safe. The last fatality there was in 1987.

Here’s hoping you enjoy it, and that you don’t let the tragedy keep you from attending if you ever get a chance. The jumpers will be there even if you aren’t.

Be sure to check out the Nov. 6 issue of the Military Times papers for more from Bridge Day, as well as interesting recaps of our other “Best Month Ever” adventures. All in all, we had a pretty awesome month.

Cheers,
C. Mark
Leroy


..I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw my bath toys were a toaster and a radio...

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If it has a tail-pocket, it's not free-packed.



In general, I'd say that the modern definition of "free packed" includes the use of a tail pocket.

"Free stowed" refers to lines in the bottom of the pack tray (without a tail pocket), but "free packed" refers to a canopy not in a bag, regardless of whether the lines were free stowed or not.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

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I also have to agree with the issue of Training or Currency. Brain-lock is just a unpredictable thing that no one can ever see coming till it's already motion in progress and everyone Brain-locks but we are not talking about forgetting the next Grip on a RW dive or where you put your car keys last. Training and currency have everything to do with building or refreshing your muscle memory to what is suppose to be spontaneous action. Like basic altitude awareness or the simple task of letting go of your PC. I am not trying to make any conclusions or place blame but on the circumstances that have been discussed but it a damn shame that this stuff happens to the best of people.
.

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I too can only agree with training and currency. For sure, Brian was trained opening a parachute with a ripcord. So, was he adequately trained on jumping a PC hand-held? I assume yes. But for sure, he was not current on that part.

Then, what do you do with a hand-held PC when you go unstable? you pitch the moment you feel you go unstable? Or do you try to correct it? With all the risks included.

Then, having quick reflexes helpes a lot too. We all know that these slow down with age. Brian was not the youngest anymore, so quick or not, his reflexes were not the same as in 1966.

And finally, if you jump a hand-held PC, go unstable and pitch to low, you can die, regardless if you use SD gear or base gear.

Just my 2 cents. I was not there. I did see Brians speech at BD 2005.

Ronald

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From the LA Times:

Schubert had no recent experience jumping and only a day of practice before Saturday, said Boenish, who was his friend and flew with him and Pelkey to West Virginia.

"I would not have let this man jump," she said. "I told him I didn't think he was ready. He would have nothing to do with me after that."

Pelkey said Schubert had trained hard, practicing jumps with a parachute into swimming pools and losing 80 pounds. But he had not jumped from a cliff or plane in practice, said Boenish.


Jean alleges that he had only "one day of practice," but if Mike Pelkey is to be believed (and I, for one, believe him), Brian put a great deal more time and effort into being ready than a mere day--more like the entire year between BD 2005 (when he declined to jump) and BD 2006.

Given that Pelkey jumped in 2005 without incident, even though he was no more current or experienced and arguably *less* trained than Brian was this year, the reasonable assumption would have been to expect no problems with Brian's jump.

A lot of the posts I've read sound like the aftermath of the death of a child, but Brian Schubert was not a child nor was he an idiot.

It is childishly arrogant to belittle his choice--and his death--by ascribing the responsibility and consequences of his choice to anyone but him.
If you don't know where you're going, you should know where you came from. Gullah Proverb

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My Friends,
A statement is forthcoming from jason on this tragic event, a proper protocol had to be followed to assure that the correct information will be released. Lets not forget we have lost another member of our small community, a pioneer to our sport.
Our deepest regrets go out to the family and friends of Brian, he will be remembered forever as 1 of a team to jump el cap for the first time. Brian was a forefather to base before he even knew where it would go. Bridgeday was something that has evolved from his direct actions of the past.
godspeed my friend
Bill Bird / Co- Organizer
trapped in a portal in time, surrounded by evil, runnin out of gas!!! destination unknown

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Brian was a forefather to base before he even knew where it would go. Bridgeday was something that has evolved from his direct actions of the past.



...and this leads me personally to believe that maybe Mr A. N. Other with similar experience (other than "the" BASE jumps made) would not have been allowed to jump...

I am really interested in what is said about this incident from the people involved.

Can people invloved with Brians training and choice to let him jump really be unmarred by the fact of who he was?

You can post that this is not so, but I strongly feel that maybe this helped blind you to decent choices...

Yes BASE is a personal choice, BASE is about choosing to step off the edge..... but everyone keeps telling me that BD is not really BASE in its pure form.... either BD is BASE or its not... dont pick and choose what it is..

If BD is BASE in choice, then dont refuse anyone to jump, if its not, then stop arguing about freedom...

[:/]

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NPR's Noah Adams was at Bridge Day and interviewed Brian before his jump. A fairly accurate and sensitive story about the event was broadcasted Monday.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6369946

During the interview Brian described his jump at El Cap,
Brian talked about having time to deploy even after getting stable. Thought the statement was telling.

I find it interesting that there seems to be some demand for standards and minimum requirements, aka BSRs, for the BASE community by the media / public (expected) but also its participants.

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During the interview Brian described his jump at El Cap, Brian talked about having time to deploy even after getting stable. Thought the statement was telling.



I spoke with an old time jumper and he said there was something distinct in the jumping from many years ago. They would emphasise getting stable much more than now before pulling due to potentially catastrophic malfunctions that could occur with such inferior gear compared to todays standards. i don't think any modern instructor would have even realized this.
Looks like a death sandwich without the bread - Steve Deadman Morrell, BASE 174

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Given that Pelkey jumped in 2005 without incident, even though he was no more current or experienced and arguably *less* trained than Brian was this year, the reasonable assumption would have been to expect no problems with Brian's jump.



the BD staff develop guidelines based on experience. they have an amazing safety record, and will continue to tweak their rules.

in past years, up to a third of BD jumpers were first time BASE jumpers. they nervously grip their PC's on the edge, eager to release it. I rarely see any that wait for the stated delay. some even release their pc ABOVE the exit platform.

this tragedy stunned the staff as they dropped everything to assist the family.

RL is correct. unless someone has facts, the criticism of those helping Brian seems inappropriate. for me, it feels like rubbing salt into a fresh wound.
DON'T PANIC
The lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
sloppy habits -> sloppy jumps -> injury or worse

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Possible mindset:

I did my first 2 BASE jumps that day hand held. I had decided that if I even started to go unstable I'd deploy. I told people about it the night before and even on the platform I thought about it: AKA if there is a stability issue, stop the jump, and use the altitude to deal with any consequences.

As I jumped off that platform I started to go head low: not alot but enough for me to notice. About the same time I felt the speed pick up and felt the familiar air so I got back stable and then pitched. I've done quite a few helicopter and balloon jumps so the feeling was not unusual.

I had told myself I'd deploy at the first hint of instability and I didn't. Had I got more unstable I'd like to think I would have. [:/]
Stupidity if left untreated is self-correcting
If ya can't be good, look good, if that fails, make 'em laugh.

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<>

Minimally, current or not, those are the mandatory required steps.

Brian had two bachelor's degrees and a master's. He was not a dummy. No one but him can be blamed for his going all the way in with PC in hand. Even with his poor exit he was adequately stable for the first three or four seconds and should have had a decent opening.

Brian was the planet's sweetest guy and my very dearest friend and I would love to find someone or something else to blame.

.
In theory, there is no difference bretween theory and practice. In practice, however, there is. -

"RIP Forever Brian Schubert. Always remembered, Never forgotten" - Leroy DB
http://www.johnny

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