TWIN FALLS • A BASE-jumping event planned for October is being canceled, with organizers worried about their sport being put in a bad light in the wake of a BASE-jumping death a week ago and a woman getting her parachute tangled in the I.B. Perrine Bridge.
Alan Lewis, a BASE jumper from Tennessee who put together a Facebook page promoting “The Other Bridge Day 2015,” said he doesn’t want to go against the wishes of the Twin Falls community or jeopardize the future of legal BASE jumping on the Perrine Bridge, a world-renowned spot in the BASE-jumping community where people can jump year-round without a permit.
He had hoped to move a major BASE jumping festival from West Virginia to Twin Falls. The even could have drawn as many as 200 jumpers to town.
“Due to the recent fatalities, and the jumper precariously getting stuck on the bridge, the local jumpers there are concerned about that adding a bad mark to legal jumping in the future,” said Lewis. “And if all this is happening now, and it’s just May, what’s going happen between now and October, and what’s going to happen in October?”
Lewis said not coming was a courtesy to the concerns of local jumpers.
“If a bunch of jumpers came to Tennessee here and wanted to jump my objects here, it’s courtesy, it’s good practice to get in contact with the locals and get their permission (and) their input,” he said.
“The Other Bridge Day” had its origins with BASE jumpers who were unhappy with the Bridge Day Commission that oversees the event in Fayetteville, W. Va., requiring participants to be fingerprinted. Lewis said, though, that they have been talking to the bridge commission and the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce about their concerns, and have been able to address some of them.
Sean Chuma, a Twin Falls-area professional jumper who was involved in the event here, posted on the event’s Facebook page on Thursday that they should cancel. So many jumpers in town at once could be a problem in light of the recent accidents.
“We just don’t want any more negative stuff to happen on the bridge,” he told the Times-News on Friday. “We kind of wonder if it’s a good idea to have that many people here.”
Chuma said that BASE jumping brings people to Twin Falls from all over the world who spend money at local businesses, and that BASE jumpers appreciate the community. He said the accidents shouldn’t be seen as reflecting on the majority of jumpers.
“We just want to remind people we are very responsible people, and we put a lot of calculation into what we do,” he said.
Lewis still hopes they can put an event together in Twin Falls in the future, but now isn’t the time for it. He is still setting up an online GoFundMe account to raise money for the local search-and-rescue groups.
“Even though we’re not going to be there,” Lewis said, “the donations are still going to go ahead as planned.