Extreme Sports Legend Dean Potter Dies After An Illegal BASE Jumping Accident In Yosemite

Dean Potter base jump

It’s hard to believe sometimes that even professionals face danger in their jobs.

Extreme sports legend Dean Potter was one of two men found dead in Yosemite National Park after a BASE jumping attempt went wrong. On Saturday evening, Potter and fellow BASE jumper, Graham Hunt attempted a wingsuit flight from Taft Point, a 7,500 peak in the park — note that it is illegal to base jump in Yosemite.

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The spotter for the two reportedly heard two sounds that, at the time she thought either could have been impacts, or their parachutes opening. After following protocol to try and reach the pair and find them, she had to report to authorities. Yosemite chief of staff, Mike Gauthier, tried to stay optimistic but noted:

“Potter and Hunt had been attempting to fly along terrain that required them to clear a notch in a rocky ridgeline. It’s kind of a trickier flight to go through this notch.”

After no luck with a search Saturday night, it was Sunday morning when the grim news came that a state police helicopter spotted both of the men’s dead bodies.

The two survivors with Potter and Dean on this trip were Jennifer Rapp, Potter’s girlfriend, and his dog Whisper, who Dean had actually taken on wingsuit flights with him before. After the fate of the men was announced, Gauthier remembered Potter in a positive light saying:

“He was a larger-than-life character. His role in the community in Yosemite Valley, and the climbing world├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥he’s just in the pantheon of great athletes that people idolize and look up to.”

Potter had been climbing and BASE jumping in Yosemite since the late 90s when he gained a lot of attention for making solo and free solo climbs on some of the national park’s more famous landmarks. In the 2000’s Potter helped to popularize slacklining — tightrope walking on a piece of rope/webbing. He would cross such landmarks as Lost Arrow Spire, in Yosemite, and the Three Gossips in Arches National Park, sometimes with no safety tether.

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In 2012, Potter was featured on World of Adventure sports, talking about his experiences with climbing and slacklining (video below). In the interview he says:

The idea that I once had, that falling off the line was death…now falling is control. And that’s a great thing being able to change. Instead of dying I’m flying.

We just hope that Dean and Graham are continuing to fly, wherever they may be. And our thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.

[Image via Instagram.]

May 18, 2015 12:50pm PDT

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