0
NickDG

Brian Schubert's "Official" Fatality Report Released . . .

Recommended Posts

Here's the "official" report, just released, on the local investigation of Brian's death at BD 2006 . . .

NickD
BASE 194

http://www.register-herald.com/local/local_story_100002005.html

>>Bridge Day BASE jump accident report released

By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald

The death of BASE jumping pioneer Brian Lee Schubert on Bridge Day 2006 was due to jumper error, according to an official report on the incident released Monday by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.

Schubert, 66, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., perished from injuries received when leaping from the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge as the noon hour approached last Oct. 21.

About four decades earlier — on July 24, 1966 — Schubert and fellow Californian Michael Pelkey were the first to BASE jump off Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan, which stands at more than 3,000 feet and is among the world’s tallest sheer monoliths. That jump provided a large dose of impetus for the growth of BASE jumping as a sport.

Pelkey was also slated to jump on Bridge Day 2006, but scrapped his plans after the tragedy.

According to a summary of the investigative report provided by Fayette County Sheriff Bill Laird, “An examination of all evidence related to this fatal accident would suggest that the death of Brian Schubert would be most attributable to jumper error in the late deployment of his parachute.” Late deployment “did not allow adequate time for proper inflation of the main parachute canopy necessary for the required deceleration of speed prior to his main impact with the river.”

Late deployment most likely resulted from “spatial disorientation” that occurred when Schubert exited the jumping platform “in a near vertical launch which soon resulted in a slow backward rotation which may have contributed to a lack of spatial awareness required for the timely deployment of his pilot chute.”

There was no evidence of entanglement, and the report ruled out rigging errors, equipment defects or failures. Also, a toxicology report by the chief medical examiner’s office said alcohol or drugs weren’t factors.

Regarding Schubert’s recent BASE jumping experience, the summary read, “... the level and adequacy of the preparation training and the apparent lack of more recent BASE jumping experience cannot be eliminated as possible contributing factors.” While Schubert was an experienced parachutist with 141 skydives to his credit, records of the currency of those jumps “become less clear.”

Furthermore, the length and adequacy of his training leading up to Bridge Day couldn’t be eliminated as a factor, the summary said.

The report recommended future Bridge Day BASE jumpers be examined for the currency of their previous BASE jumps during the registration process. That will be done beginning this year, says Jason Bell of Vertical Visions, Bridge Day BASE coordinators.

“We will up the standards,” Bell said, while admitting tracking that information could prove difficult. “We’ll definitely check currency requirements, among other things.”

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service investigated Schubert’s death with the aid of an “outside, independent expert,” Laird explained. “We had a real keen interest in wanting to be thorough and complete.”

For one day a year, the NPS gives people a six-hour window during which they can parachute off the world’s second-longest single-span bridge to the river below. Schubert’s was the first BASE jumping death at Bridge Day since 1987 and the third since the event started in 1980. Following the tragic plunge, jumping was temporarily suspended, then resumed during the afternoon.<<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

...currency of their previous BASE jumps



We will have a currency requirement for PARACHUTE jumps (not restricted to BASE jumps), since many people at Bridge Day will have no prior BASE jumps. This information will be available shortly at www.bridgeday.info.
(c)2010 Vertical Visions. No unauthorized duplication permitted. <==For the media only

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Allowing first time jumpers at BD is fucking retarded.



I'm going to play Devil's Advocate for a moment.

Why are first time jumpers at BD (876') bad, while first time jumpers at TF (486') good? Higher == more reaction time == good for newbies.
Looking for newbie rig, all components...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually more freefall is bad for newbies.

PCA's or staticline jumps are not permitted at BD.

The landing area is retaredly small for newbies. Hell it's small for a Pro Rated skydiver.

Nothing good about putting a stopwatch on a jumper and making him/her feel the pressure to get off fast.
----------------------------------------------
You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
> Actually more freefall is bad for newbies.

Yup, good point. Jumping into dead air is very different from jumping into an 80+ kt wind [and as a skydiving newbie, I still can't even get that right!]. However, a longer canopy ride is generally a good thing, especially on an S -- it gives the jumper much more time to find toggles and deal with "minor" things like offheadings or linetwists that are still going to give a novice a heart attack.

> PCA's or staticline jumps are not permitted at BD.

I didn't know this, but I can see why.

> The landing area is retaredly small for newbies. Hell it's small for a Pro Rated skydiver.

I forgot about this one. Especially contrasted with the massive landing zone at TF, this is going to be a big deal for anyone who takes large flat fields for granted and the freedom to always land into the wind.

> Nothing good about putting a stopwatch on a jumper and making him/her feel the pressure to get off fast.

Screw the stopwatch -- just give them a good kick in the ass! ;)

Edited to add: I'm sold. I had previously thought there was a *small* chance that my first jump could possibly be at BD, but now I see that's dumb, even if the timing works out (and even that's probably too ambitious).
Looking for newbie rig, all components...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JP, while I agree with many of your points, I think you are presenting them in an unnecessarily inflammatory manner, and I'd take issue with your characterization ("retarded") of the practice of allowing first timers at Bridge Day.

Bridge Day is not BASE jumping--it's Bridge Day. Having first time jumpers at Bridge Day is a time honored tradition, and one that is part and parcel of the Bridge Day experience. Honestly, I think the culture of the event would be totally different without them, and I don't think I'd like that cultural change.

That said, I agree with your points as to why a first jump in Twin Falls is safer and easier than Bridge Day. In addition, Twin allows time for a longer training progression, making a new jumper safer and better prepared should they choose to continue in the sport once they return home.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree that TF is a better place for newbies to jump than BD. Less pressure, less object strike potential for PCA's, a bigger landing area, and more time to make more jumps.

I disagree that having first times at BD is fucking retarded. Many people make their first, and sometimes only BASE jumps at BD without incident. If the LZ is not something you're comfortable with, there's always the water and 4 rescue boats. Plus in low wind conditions I think the land LZ is very doable on a lightly loaded BASE canopy for someone with good accuracy skills, attainable in a few hundred skydives.

Not everyone is going to go to TF or Norway for their first BASE jumps. A legal day jump off a tall S is better than a night illegal jump off a more unforgiving object where many people do their first BASE jumps.

Some people enjoy the circus of BD and others don't. And Tom, Bridge Day is BASE jumping, even if there's a lot of skydivers jumping old skydiving rigs off a tall bridge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

And Tom, Bridge Day is BASE jumping, even if there's a lot of skydivers jumping old skydiving rigs off a tall bridge.



Perhaps what I said didn't come across how I intended it.

I believe that Bridge Day is significantly different--and more--than BASE jumping. It has a culture and spirit of it's own, that are very different from the culture and spirit of BASE jumping generally. The old skydiving rigs is one of the things that makes Bridge Day distinct from BASE more generally, and lends a richness to the experience that differentiates it from other experiences, even those available through BASE jumping at other times and places.
-- Tom Aiello

Tom@SnakeRiverBASE.com
SnakeRiverBASE.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Allowing first time jumpers at BD is fucking retarded. And yeah, he can be considered "first time" based on the ridiculous length between jump 1 and 2.



It's not so much the length of time between base jumps as the length of time since he had parachuted at all. Even with bad legs, a few water jumps from a plane would have been a good idea.
If some old guy can do it then obviously it can't be very extreme. Otherwise he'd already be dead.
Bruce McConkey 'I thought we were gonna die, and I couldn't think of anyone

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not that I want to rehash this again, but I have some new information below....

Quote

Actually more freefall is bad for newbies.



More freefall is good. If you have a pilot chute error (like the last 5 fatalities in Twin Falls), then you have more time for it to be cleared. You also have more time to set up for landing.

Quote

PCA's or staticline jumps are not permitted at BD.



I agree with you on this one, which is why I approached the Bridge Day Commission (BDC) to get approval to do PCA's from the catwalk level this year. I wanted all first timers to be PCA'd from the edge of the steel so there would be no chance of object strike if they PCA'd from the normal exit point on top of the bridge. The BDC didn't waste any time saying NO. I believe they are worried that catwalk access would give us an advantage in obtaining permission to jump beyond bridge day, but the official reason was overcrowding of the catwalk.

Quote

The landing area is retaredly small for newbies. Hell it's small for a Pro Rated skydiver.



The main landing area is the RIVER. If you can't hit the RIVER, then you've got bigger problems. The smaller LZ that you speak of is quite easy for anyone with decent accuracy skills. I've seen the newest of newbies hit the LZ each time without any problems. I've even seen a round parachute land dry in the LZ (crazy Russian guy). But yes, it can be intimidating until you actually land there and water level is a factor.

Quote

Nothing good about putting a stopwatch on a jumper and making him/her feel the pressure to get off fast.



Jumpers have plenty of time to get prepared for the jump and then get in line after a gear check when they're ready. We don't force anyone to jump within a certain time period. There is no stopwatch.

The BDC and NPS chose to disclude the BASE Jumping Coordinators (Bill Bird and I) in the release of both fatality reports so far. I received no questions or calls from the BDC/NPS relating to the fatality reports, nor have I ever officially received a copy of anything related to the fatality. I was not given the opportunity to review or provide comments prior to the "public" fatality report released earlier this week. The public fatality report is full of errors and assumptions. I've officially requested a REVISED fatality report from the BDC.

The main cause of Brian's fatality was his pilot chute deployment into his chest at the 5 second mark, where it became trapped for at least 2 seconds. I was able to review more video recently on a high def TV and this is the conclusion that I (and others) have come up with. Brian was able to extract his PC from his chest at 7 seconds and you can see a lot of right arm movement at this time. Hopefully the BDC will correct the fatality report based on this and other information I have submitted to them. Could Brian have had more recent experience? I don't know, because no one knows the date of his last parachute jump. We will check parachute currency this year, but I doubt it will affect but a handfull of jumpers.

There is much more information to mention, but I'm not that interested in posting to this forum lately. If you want to know more, email me. But I did want everyone to know the technical reason for Brian's fatality (PC deployed into his chest and trapped from 5-7 second mark).
(c)2010 Vertical Visions. No unauthorized duplication permitted. <==For the media only

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First I want to thank Mr. B. for making BD happen for everyone and hope he doesnt take all the crap people dish out on this to harshly... its easy to do the 20/20 hindsite on this...

Secondly, ten years ago, when i was still a n()()by, and only had 40 skydives, a very scary imposing tandem master assured me that i could BASE there with no problems, and i havent had any problems since...

However since then, with all the surging interest there obviously needs to be some minimum requirements, but to say they are more necessary than education is rediculous...

You take your life into your hands every time you jump, no one needs to be responsible for you besides you...I think we have enough a$$holes in the sport, we do not need to diminish the memory of someone who seemed to have been a positive influence
you want me to do what???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The main landing area is the RIVER.



The logic of that is :S

I sat through every minute of the briefings last year. THe river was always refered to as a safe out.

Boats or no boats, landing in the water adds another level of danger.
----------------------------------------------
You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

THe river was always refered to as a safe out.



Our exact words each year include "the river is your primary landing area". The water rescue guy (long pony tail) told you this as well early during the Friday 7pm meeting.

Regardless of whether you heard us or not, the river is currently our primary LZ. We pay $2800 for four boats each year and they will usually be plucking you out of the river before you come up for your first breath of air.

And yes, we are each ultimately responsible for our own safety.
(c)2010 Vertical Visions. No unauthorized duplication permitted. <==For the media only

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You take your life into your hands every time you jump, no one needs to be responsible for you besides you...I think we have enough a$$holes in the sport, we do not need to diminish the memory of someone who seemed to have been a positive influence
__________________________________________________

Thanks. The sport needs more guys like you.
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote


More freefall is good. If you have a pilot chute error (like the last 5 fatalities in Twin Falls), then you have more time for it to be cleared. You also have more time to set up for landing.



I think what JP was saying relates to what you see time and time again of an AFF level 1 on his back spinning or someone in the tunnel out of control. On a BASE jump is not the time to be with no or little freefall experience. If you get disoriented/out of control you die, period. It's better to take that out of the equation entirely and have them do a static line jump--that way at least they get a canopy over their head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I didn't even think about doing Bridge Day until I had done some helicopter and balloon jumps so I'd be familiar with dead air.



And even then your 1st exit was...... headlow perhaps? But the dead air skills allowed you to recover....

I believe Balloon and helicopter jumps are good for the whole 'dead air experience', but most balloon and helicopter pilots don't like you to push off hard like a good solid base exit...

They prefer you to fall off, so as not to upset the aircraft.

At least with 'the standard pool' exit practice you get to push off hard...

So what do you opt for? Practice a good hard launch into a pool that isn't really a jump, or a helicopter / balloon jump with some dead air practice to right yourself?

I'd say the best case scenario is a mix of both, but since there are no guarantees in base, you could still mess up the exit...

However, if your exit goes well, things tend to stay in that direction... If you zoo your exit well, you may need those dead air skills pretty quick.... if and only if there is enough height for that....

just my thoughts-

_justin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NRG has also been popular for far longer than TF... Notice that all 5 TF fatalities have happened since #63, yet the first 3 NRG fatalities were 15+ years ago, then followed by the only NRG fatality since 1987
Web Design
Cleveland Skydiving
"Hey, these cookies don't taste anything like girl scouts..."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
0