May 8, 2015 / 7:20 PM / 5 years ago

Elderly Californian dies in BASE jump in Idaho

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A 73-year-old California man was killed after his parachute deployed late during a 500-foot jump from a bridge into the Snake River in Idaho, the second death there this year tied to the extreme sport of BASE jumping, authorities said on Friday.

Jim Hickey of Claremont, California, likely died on impact after hitting the water at a high rate of speed on Thursday evening, according to the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office.

Hickey, a retired accountant, had participated in well over 1,000 jumps in the decade since he took up a sport in which parachutists free-fall from such fixed points as cliffs, bridges and buildings, said Tom Aiello, a friend and owner of a BASE jumping school in Twin Falls.

Hickey is the second person to die this year after leaping from the Perrine Bridge, which spans the Snake River where it winds through a basalt-walled gorge carved by an ancient flood. It is one of the relatively few man-made structures where the sport is legal.

Bryan Turner, 32, of Vancouver, British Columbia, was killed in March when his parachute failed to open, marking the first fatality in four years tied to BASE jumps from the bridge near Twin Falls.

The two deaths compare to a single fatality tallied from 2009 to 2014, authorities say. Aiello estimated that 500 people a year parachute from the bridge.

BASE is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans and Earth - the kinds of platforms used by jumpers. There is no official tally of how many people die each year while BASE jumping, Aiello said.

Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott

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