U.S. drops citation against man whose bride died BASE-jumping in Utah

Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:26pm EST

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(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have dismissed a misdemeanor citation brought against a man whose wife of two weeks plunged to her death when her parachute failed to open while skydiving from a cliff in Zion National Park.

Amber Bellows, 28, died on Saturday while she and her husband, Clayton Butler, 29, were engaged in the extreme-sport called BASE-jumping, leaping from tall rock formations in aerodynamic suits designed for controlled free falls. BASE is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans and earth, the kinds of platforms from which jumpers leap.

"To be sure, BASE jumping in Zion National Park is unlawful, and this tragic BASE-jumping accident underscores some of the reasoning behind the regulations which prohibit such conduct," Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney David Barlow, said in a statement on Thursday.

"Nevertheless, the interests of justice do not warrant prosecution of Mr. Butler."

Butler could not be reached for comment.

He and his wife were jumping from Mount Kinesava in Zion, a park in southwestern Utah famous for its sandstone cliffs.

Butler jumped after Bellows in a failed attempt to save her, then hiked out to notify Zion Park authorities. He was cited for violating a federal law that bans parachuting and other airborne activity in national parks without a special permit or an emergency.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman in Idaho; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Steve Gorman)

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