Oct. 22, 2006
Californian Dies in Bridge Day Jump When Chute Fails to Open in Time
By Tony Seaton
Huntington News Network Contributing Writer
Fayetteville, WV (HNN) – As at least one horrified family member looked on, the parachute of experienced BASE jumper Brian Lee Schubert, 66, of Alta Loma, California, failed to open in time when he jumped from the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, WV at approximately 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006. He hit the New River some 800 feet below and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a spokesman and a press release from the Fayette County sheriff’s department.
Schubert was a retired lieutenant with the Pomona, California Police Department, and a graduate of the National FBI academy. His body was transported to a local funeral home for examination by the County Medical examiner
His death was the first that occurred during BASE jumping at the New River Gorge Bridge Day Festival since 1987, and only the fourth ever. BASE is an acronym standing for Building, Antennae, Span, and Earth, and indicates the launching point for these daring jumpers.
Bridge Day is considered the largest extreme sports event in the world, according to its web site, and is West Virginia’s largest one-day festival. The festival is unique in that it is the only day visitors may walk across the bridge, BASE jumpers can parachute from the railing and rappellers are allowed to descend and ascend fixed ropes.
Several other jumper injuries were reported throughout the day by medical personnel stationed at the landing zone area near Fayette Station, WV.
This year’s crowd is estimated to have been in the range of 150,000 people. The festival was temporarily suspended after Schubert’s death. A joint investigation of the death by the National Park Service and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department is ongoing.