Southern Utah News Articles
Base jumper fatality at Zion National Park
At approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 8, 28-year-old Amber Bellows died from a failed base jumping attempt off Mount Kinesava. She was with her husband of two weeks, Clayton Butler, 29-years-old. Both were from Salt Lake City, Utah, and were experienced base jumpers.
According to Butler, the couple hiked up Mount Kinesava that morning and Bellows was the first to jump. Butler stated her parachute did not open properly and she fell approximately 2000 feet. He jumped after her, but was unable to reach her. He hiked out to get help and notified the park at approximately 6:30 p.m.
Zion National Park reached out to Grand Canyon National Park for helicopter support. Since it was a recovery and not a rescue, the teams decided to wait until daylight in order to reduce unnecessary risk. The area Bellows fell in is fairly remote and in difficult terrain. Her exact location was also unknown.
Bellows body was located around 10 a.m. on Sunday, February 9, and planning efforts for the recovery started. A short-haul operation was determined to be the safest alternative to recover the body. NPS Rangers Fitzgerald and Thexton were short-hauled directly to Bellow’s body. The two rangers hoisted Bellows a short distance to an awaiting ambulance.
The accident is currently under investigation. Base jumping is illegal within Zion National Park. This was the first fatality in Zion this year and the first ever fatality of a base jumper in Zion.
“It is just really sad and our condolences go out to her family and friends,” said Acting Superintendent Jim Milestone. “Base jumping is so dangerous. Even for those that are experienced, like Amber Bellows. That is one of the reasons it is not allowed in the park.”