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Second BASE jumping fatality at Zion National Park in two months

First Published Mar 24 2014 09:27 am • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 09:26 pm

For the second time in as many months, a BASE jumper has died in a leap at southern Utah’s Zion National Park. Another BASE-jumping death also occurred over the weekend in Grand County.

Park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said Monday that in the latest case, the jumper was reported overdue Sunday morning. A Grand Canyon National Park helicopter crew was called in and located the body about 3 p.m. Sunday below the West Temple peak in the park’s southern area.

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As of Monday, the remains still had not been recovered due to difficult terrain and crosswinds that are treacherous for helicopters, Baltrus said. She said it could be "several days" before search-and-rescue crews are able to retrieve the body, which she did not further identify, saying the victim’s name and gender were being withheld pending notification of kin.

In February, 28-year-old Amber Bellows became the first person to die in a BASE-jumping accident at the park, known for its soaring canyon walls and spires.

BASE jumping — leaping with a parachute from tall structures such as buildings, bridges and natural features — is illegal in the park.

Bellows was with her husband of two weeks, Clayton Butler, when she leaped from 7,276-foot Mt. Kinesava on Feb. 8. Her parachute failed to open properly as she plunged toward the canyon floor.

Butler had been cited for a misdemeanor for BASE jumping in the park, but federal prosecutors dismissed the charge, declaring it was not in the interest of justice to prosecute.

On Friday night, a 35-year-old man leaped to his death while BASE jumping into Grand County’s Mineral Canyon. His body was recovered by search-and-rescue personnel Saturday.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as Kevin Morroun, who worked for Skydive Moab.

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Twitter: @remims

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