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Newlywed man whose wife died BASE jumping in Utah cited by park

Source: Reuters - Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:15 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Laura Zuckerman

Feb 12 (Reuters) - A husband whose bride of two weeks fell to her death while BASE jumping in Zion National Park in Utah has been cited for violating a federal law that bans parachuting in national parks, an agency spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Amber Bellows, 28, plummeted 2,000 feet to her death on Saturday after her parachute failed to open properly while she and her husband were BASE jumping off of Mount Kinesava at the park in the desert canyonlands of southwestern Utah.

The man, Clayton Butler, jumped after Bellows to try to save her but was unable to reach her during his descent before she hit the ground. It took two hours for him to hike out and notify park officials, who retrieved Bellows' body on Sunday in rugged terrain at the base of the mountain.

An acronym for building, antenna, span and earth, BASE jumping is a form of skydiving where a person free-falls off a fixed surface before opening a parachute. It is illegal at the park as is any airborne activity in the absence of a special permit or an emergency, said spokeswoman Aly Baltrus.

Butler could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. If found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, he could face up to six months in jail, maximum fines of $5,000 or both, Baltrus said.

The couple was experienced at the sport, considered one of the most extreme, in which hundreds of lives have been lost. Last September, 35-year-old software engineer Walden Grindle died after colliding with a cliff while jumping off the popular Mt. Saint Helena in Northern California.

Bellows' death was the first BASE jumping fatality at Zion National Park. Utah's first national park is known for its towering sandstone cliffs and annually attracts millions of visitors for hiking, camping and rock climbing. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Alden Bentley)

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