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What Are the Common Causes of BASE Jumping Fatalities?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2016
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BASE jumpers take part in what is often considered an extreme sport, because it involves a person jumping from a platform with a parachute strapped to his or her back. The sport's name is an acronym stemming from the things from which a jumper can choose to leap — a building, antenna, span or earth. The result of such jumps is sometimes injury or death, and one of the most common reasons for BASE jumping fatalities is failure to clear the platform from which the participant is jumping. Another possible danger occurs when the parachute does not open correctly, resulting in the BASE jumper free falling and hitting the ground. In addition, some BASE jumping deaths are caused by failure to land in the designated area.

Among the most common reasons for BASE jumping fatalities is the jumper's collision with the platform. Some jumpers do not propel themselves far enough away from the platform to avoid hitting it on their way down. When the area from which they jump is made of hard material, such as cement or metal, colliding with the surface can be dangerous. Even the jumpers who leap out as far as possible may be pushed back toward the platform by strong wind, so experience does not always reduce the risk of fatality.

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Equipment malfunction is another common factor in BASE jumping fatalities, because the parachute may not open during the short distance between the platform and the landing area. In some cases, the parachute works immediately, but it opens the wrong way, rendering it unable to work as it should. Depending on the height of the platform, the result may be serious injury or death, which is why jumpers are often advised to make sure their equipment in working order and that they know how to use it.

Another frequent cause of BASE jumping fatalities is the fact that not all jumpers land in a safe spot after leaping from the platform. In many cases, they designate a safe area where they intend to land, but it is possible to miss the spot. One reason for this is that strong wind may push jumpers to the side so they cannot land correctly. Other types of weather also can have an effect on the result, such as when it is not clear enough for jumpers to see their target landing spot. Sometimes these types of BASE jumping fatalities can be blamed on the jumper's inexperience or even a simple mistake, because some people simply do not make the target landing area large enough to begin with.

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