New bride dies while BASE jumping in Utah park

Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:29pm EST

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(Reuters) - A Utah newlywed who went BASE jumping in Zion National Park with her husband of two weeks was killed at the weekend when her parachute failed to open properly and she plunged to her death, a park official said on Monday.

Amber Bellows, 28, plummeted about 2,000 feet during a jump off of Mount Kinesava on Saturday afternoon, the National Parks Service said in a statement. Her new husband told authorities he noticed there was trouble with her parachute and he jumped after his wife to try to save her, but was unable to reach her.

After landing, 29-year-old husband Clayton Butler hiked for more than two hours before reaching park officials at sundown to notify them of the incident. Search crews using a helicopter recovered Bellow's body on Sunday in a rugged area of the mountain's base, park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said on Monday.

The couple were experienced with BASE jumping, a form of skydiving where a person free-falls off a fixed surface before activating a parachute, the Parks Service said. The term BASE stands for buildings, antennas, spans and earth.

The extreme sport recently claimed the life of 35-year-old software engineer Walden Grindle, who died after colliding with a cliff while jumping off of the popular Mt. Saint Helena in Northern California in September.

Bellows' death was the first BASE jumping fatality at Zion National Park. Parachuting of any kind is illegal at the park.

"BASE jumping is so dangerous. Even for those that are experienced, like Amber Bellows. That is one of the reasons it is not allowed in the park," Acting Superintendent Jim Milestone said in a statement.

The National Parks Service is investigating the death as an accident.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Nick Zieminski)

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