When We Met
I unofficially met Sean Chuma on Facebook after he responded to a message I sent back in July. I was new to town then, and one of my first memories of Twin Falls was watching in horror as a man jumped from the Perrine Bridge. Of course I didn’t know then that Twin Falls and the bridge were epicenters for BASE jumpers around the country and internationally.
I was intrigued and placed some phone calls hoping to talk with a local BASE jumper for a potential story. Chuma was one of those people, and I was surprised when five months later I received a response.
Chuma said he had been injured while BASE jumping in June and had received a number of messages at the time. He finally noticed my inquiry in the stack of old messages, and Dec. 12 we met in person at Java in Twin Falls.
Chuma was wearing a brown stocking hat and a gray sweatshirt with the initials RDS on the front. That stands for Red Dragon Skate, a clothing company based in Canada.
How You Might Know Him
Chuma moved to Twin Falls six years ago from San Diego. Chuma, 33, started skydiving at 16 and came to Twin Falls to perform his first BASE jump from the Perrine Bridge.
He described that jump as “sensory overload.” Instead of a 50-second free fall he was used to with skydiving, he found himself falling for only three to four seconds.
“I’m a lot more calm now than I was,” Chuma said. “I was ... nervous, but I was there to do it. I had been waiting all my life to do it, and there was no way I was going to back down.”
After Chuma literally fell for the sport, he moved to Idaho and now calls Twin Falls his “headquarters for life.”
“This is the only place that’s so BASE friendly. It’s a good place to learn, and the community is totally supportive here,” he said.
As of Dec. 12 he had logged 1,770 BASE jumps and about 1,600 skydives. He said he is known for aerial tricks or flips he does while free-falling.
“You progress like in any sport and you become more in tune and you can break down time better, three or four seconds, time slows down. I’d equate it to being a ninja.”
In June, Chuma said, his leg was almost torn off when a parachute wrapped around it before opening. It was the second time he’s been injured while BASE jumping or skydiving.
He had a seven-hour surgery and was on crutches for months. But just last month he BASE jumped for the first time since being hurt.
What’s Next for Him
Chuma is an instructor at TandemBASE in Twin Falls but spends a lot of time traveling the country and the world BASE jumping and skydiving.
After our interview Chuma had to pack for a drive to Boise to catch a flight to Texas. He will be there for five days filming a commercial for Onnit Labs LLC, a company that specializes in supplements, with Joe Rogan, who hosted “Fear Factor,” and his friend Donald Schultz, who hosted Animal Planet’s series “Wild Recon” and “Venom in Vegas.”
Chuma and Schultz became friends after Schultz took BASE jumping lessons in Twin Falls and Chuma was his instructor. The two are currently working together on a documentary film; “Vertical Playground” is about BASE jumping, with scenes filmed in Twin Falls, and Red Dragon Skate is among the sponsors.
Is this what he imagined doing when he was younger? Chuma said it was close. He wanted to be a stuntman when he was 8. He said his younger self wanted to do fun stuff and get paid for it.
In Texas, he said, the plan is to BASE jump out of a hot air balloon for the commercial.
It sounds like his childhood dream has already come true.
Tell Tetona Dunlap whom she should meet next for her weekly column: 735-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.